SOME KIDS dream of becoming an astronaut or a firefighter. Growing up, chef Tony Meyers had an earthier aspiration: to become a meat man. Raised on a small family farm in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Meyers was introduced to the life, death, and the culinary hereafter of livestock before he could walk. He kept pet sheep, watched butchers carve subprimal cuts, and tasted raw ground meat.
But when Meyers moved to Portland in 2003 and discovered Oregon’s wealth of big game, he embraced an even wilder side. At the Italian-inspired eatery Serratto on NW 21st Avenue, Meyers stocks his walk-in freezer with hunks of venison, elk, whole halves of boar, and an impressive stash of antelope every day. “It’s a lot more interesting than a big slab of beef,” says Meyers. “You get more petite cuts that taste better because they are raised naturally in the wild.”
To soften the untamed edge of such cuts, Meyers riffs on a familiar Milanese classic, osso buco—literally “bone with a hole”—a braised, cross-cut shank with a giant bone in the middle. Instead of the traditional veal shanks, Meyers slow-cooks marrow-filled venison bones from Oregon’s top game importer, Nicky USA, for a healthier, richer, and more flavorful braise. It’s a perfect one-pot meal for the winter, guaranteed to cling to your ribs but exotic enough to satisfy the adventurous eater in you.