Yak Hump Osso Buco

Yak Hump Osso BucoIt may (or may not) surprise you that we are really rather recluse people. Other than the 14 doorbell rings daily for the drop-off and pick-up of our 7 daycare friends, we really don’t have anyone over, and don’t go to anyone else’s place very often at all. Of course, ^THAT^ may be why. Major holidays with the in-laws and a 1 hour weekly bible group for me, and that’s pretty much it for our social life.

Squatch and WineMy mother would be the exception. With regular trips to Anchorage for various needs and routine airport stops for slope change-overs, we see her at least once a month and usually overnight. Can I call this my social life? Sadly, probably. It does have the advantage of coming with a free guinea pig, though. Outside of a complete ban on anything from the water, Andrew is willing to try most things I make, but really isn’t going to enjoy an entire meal out of most of my creations. He’s pretty much a married bachelor when it comes to his regular food choices. A friend once made a very accurate observation, “Andrew. He’s the nicest guy you’ll never meet.” If you were ever to visit you would make the other very obvious observation that there is always pizza of some form or another in our fridge. Always.

This all being explained you may understand why I was so excited to have my mother and step-dad over for a special dinner creation. We don’t get graced with his presence nearly so often, and it happened to be their anniversary, so I just happened to come up with a special meal plan. …an excuse really, to cook something I wanted to try, and have some one actually enjoy it.

Yak Bones with Meat

Three large yak soup bones with a decent amount of meat still attached.

This all started when I recently discovered that local farmers were now offering yak meat at the market. I IMMEDIATELY wanted to make plans for a yak meat meal, and this would, of course, have to involve my entire social circle, that is my mother. “We will be coming through to fly out to Portland in a few weeks, but it’s a red-eye flight. Do you think we could stop in for a few hours and see Nathan?” BINGO! The date was set and they would both be here. I had the opportunity to host an actual dinner party!

In between, she had another visit and we made the bone marrow and udon soup. It was so fantastic! My mom became very excited about making the opportunity to share it with her husband, but he had been away on the north slope and then they had plans for a vacation… She had also spoken fondly, several times, about the osso buco she used to get when her mother would take the two of them out for a ‘fancy’ dinner.

I had kept the yak meat a secret, stating only that I would be making them a special dinner, but to be honest I didn’t have any actual plan about what it would be. I had been wanting to try my hand at osso buco, and felt that she would give a solid critique of my attempt so I started working in that direction. Of-course, Sunny Hill Ranch didn’t have yak shank available, (Who doesn’t have yak shank? What-the-heck?!) but they did have soup bones with meat on them, and one very special cut of meat; Hump Roast.

Yak Hump RoastHump Roast?! That would make a wonderful surprise dinner for my folks! It was decided then, I could cook the soup bones and give him the marrow experience, simply adding some hump roast to fill it out, and I could make it osso buco style for my mother! Yak Hump Osso Buco would be the main dish for their special night!

Sunny Hill Ranch has been setting up deliveries to the local towns and cities around here, so I simply requested the meat I wanted, soup bones and the smallest hump roast they had (still 3.1 pounds), and finished it up using paypal. Anita delivered the frozen meat right to my door!

Because the roast was much larger than we needed for the moderate meal we were desiring, and the bones actually had quite a bit of meat on them, I decided to thaw it just enough to cut off a small piece and save the rest for another occasion. This was also decided based on the cost of the meat, as it was quite an Rainbow Heirloom Tomatoesexpensive cut! After all, how many humps does each yak have? (One. The answer is ‘one.’)

As for the vegetables, I chose to work with the classic Italian ‘holy trinity.’ I picked organic rainbow carrots to bring some color, along with celery and yellow onions. I also chose to cut them into large single bit size pieces. To be totally honest I have never had osso buco, so I was really winging it. I did, however, read that traditional osso buco had not contained the tomato sauce that is used so ubiquitously among professionals and food bloggers alike. I decided instead to use grape tomatoes, again beautiful organic rainbow heirlooms, leaving them whole, simply because I like tomatoes!

Chopped 'Holy Trinity' of Celery, Carrot, and OnionEverything went off without a hitch. I put the bones on to boil in a mixture of beef and chicken stock starting at 12:00 noon. Nathan and I left to attend a fund raiser for the CF Foundation, but returned again at 3:00. (More about that at the bottom of this page) Time to prep veggies! Two hours before I planned to serve dinner, while my mother took over the CF treatment duties for the evening, I sauteed some garlic with the carrots, celery, and onion, then let it simmer with a heavy dose of fresh thyme and an entire bottle of white wine. As is typical for osso buco, I dredged and braised the meat on the bones as well as some added slices of hump. With the bones, meat, and vegetables all now in the pot with the wine, I added some broth and left them to simmer. For the last 20 minutes I added the whole tomatoes.

A tweet from the burpee challange

A tweet from the burpee challenge at Figarelle’s Fitness; a fundraiser for the CF Foundation

Along with the osso buco I had decided to serve polenta. I know that saffron risotto is the more traditional choice, but I was again, picking favorites for my mother. I knew they weren’t wanting a heavy meal so I cleverly came up with the idea to cut the polenta into cubes and fry it like croutons. They could have as many or as few as they desired.

This I started really early with the boiling beginning at 7am. I made just a little and poured it into a squared ‘dish’ folded from foil so it could rest in the fridge. Perfect. I came back from our outing, pulled it out to cut…. “Ah crap!” I had forgotten to add the butter and cheese when it was still hot. By now there wasn’t enough time to boil more and have it set. It would just have to be what it was… if it worked out at all.

Polenta, not so great

My not-so-great polenta.

I heated the oil, sliced the polenta sheet, and added it to the oil.  Oh man. Right off the bat I realized that I should have used the deep fryer. It would have controlled the splatter (as the polenta was really moist) and been a lot hotter for a crispier fry. I also realize just now that if I had decided to bread the cubes I may have been able to salvage them. Eh, it was was it was, and I wasn’t cooking for a Michelin star so I was sure we’d all survive. The ‘polenta croutons’ however really were a total flop.


Osso buco plated

My Mother’s Dish. They each had different bowls and place mats because we never entertain, so we only need one of each item for options when we photograph our food. It does make it customized for each person though! Even though the polenta was a presentational flop, I used the crisped bits from the bottom of the pot, (the prized tah-digh per-say?), for plating.

As for my osso buco? My mother felt that it didn’t remind her so much of osso buco, as a bone soup with vegetables, but it was good. GREAT!

As much as I wanted to run with a traditional osso buco, I think for my next attempt I will give in and go with the more, very much more, common version using tomato sauce. After all, that is what everyone expects.

At this point, I had to slip out to that 1 hour bible study group. I had served my folks, and left them to Andrew and Nathan’s company. After the total failure of the polenta I was more than surprised to find the dish completely empty upon my return! I guess it just goes to show that ‘presentation’ isn’t all of it.

We ended the night with a simple dessert of fresh rambutan, and strawberries with pine nuts and honey. Bellies happy and glasses empty.
Empty Glasses and Rambutan

In the end it was a wonderful dinner. It was a wonderful several hours of chat and play.

In our family we know that time is precious and can’t be returned so we try to make the most out of every opportunity, and I feel that we did just that with this quick ‘stop-in.’

Along with it, I am sure, it will be an anniversary that my parents will never forget, “The night we Yak Hump Osso Buco with Vanessa.”

Soup Bones and Meat – Osso Buco Style

By:semiserious chefs
Cook Time: 5 hours


  • 2 1/2 pounds soup bones with meat, plus 1 pound additional boneless meat roast, sliced thick
  • 1/2 quart beef/chicken stock, more as needed
  • 1/2 quart water, more as needed
  • 1 T whole peppercorns
  • 1 medium onion – chopped
  • 6 carrots – chopped
  • 3 celery stalks – chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves – minced
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • ~10 oz grape tomatoes
  • 1 bottle white wine
  • salt and pepper – to taste


  1. At least 5 hours before planned serving time add the soup bones, 1/2 quart stock, and 1/2 quart water (or enough to cover bones) to a pot and bring to a simmer with the peppercorns and some salt.
  2. Prep the vegetables and have ready 2 hours before serving time.
  3. At 2 hours from ‘Tee-Time’ add the minced garlic and chopped carrot, celery, and onion to a large pot with several tablespoons of olive oil. Saute over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften and brown. 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add the bottle of wine and fresh thyme to the pot with the vegetables, and bring the heat up to medium high to reduce wine by half.
  5. Remove the soup bones from broth. (You can pat it dry, dredge both the bones with meat and your additional roast meat with flour, and braise as they do for osso buco, but I really didn’t find that it mattered for the final dish.) Add the soup bones and sliced roast meat to the wine and vegetable mix, along with enough stock to cover the meat; more or less as desired.
  6. At 15 minutes before serving time add the whole grape tomatoes. Simmer and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  7. To plate: add one bone and some meat to each dish, with a healthy scoop of vegetables, and desired amount of broth; less for osso buco style, more for a soup. Be sure to offer a small spoon for the removal of the marrow! Serve with saffron risotto or polenta as desired.


A little more from the Burpee Challenge at Figarelle’s Fitness. Participants collect donations either as a one time amount, or ‘per each burpee’ finished. The woman with the most burpees in 15 minutes did 183! All of the proceeds for this challenge go to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and thus-ly CF patients like Nathan and Sabrina, pictured below with her baby. They do this every year in April. Perhaps you will join the challenge next year?! These people are awesome, and I thank you all so much!!!!

Burpees in Action:

making friends

Nathan, making friends as usual!

Sabrina Walker and Son

Sabrina Walker is an amazing woman and mother!

puddle play

There is ALWAYS time for huge puddles!

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