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Saralyn Richard on Why Mysteries Make Us Hungry

Saralyn Richard’s most recent book is a Murder of Principal. She is also the author of the Detective Parrott mysteries and children’s book, Naughty Nana. You can find out more about her here, see her books here, and read her last post here.

Did you know reading murder mysteries burns a lot of calories? It’s true. Research studies conducted while readers were reading mysteries showed the nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat sitting, and heart-pounding scenes burned way more calories than those burned by reading books in any other genre. Well, at least we think so.

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That gives mystery writers poetic license to include scenes filled with mouth-watering gastronomic delights, right? 

Murder in the One Percent, the first in the Detective Parrott Mystery series, revolves around a weekend birthday celebration at a country mansion in Pennsylvania’s horse country. The gathering includes lots and lots of delectable food and drink—enough to make the reader salivate. The menus are fit for royalty, and the wine pairings impress even the savviest connoisseur. 

Here’s a recipe for one of the entrees served at the party. The osso buco fills the house with the aromas of garlic and spices. The meat just melts in our mouths, and the taste is decadent—or maybe that’s not a good word to use, since someone turns up dead.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for all the gourmands among you. Happy eating, and happy reading, too.

Osso Buco Ingredients

  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 2 whole cloves garlic
  • Cheesecloth
  • Kitchen twine, for bouquet garni and tying the veal shanks
  • 3 whole veal shanks (about 1 pound per shank), trimmed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 small carrot, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 stalk celery, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest


Place the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and cloves into cheesecloth and secure with twine. This will be your bouquet garni.

For the veal shanks, pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Veal shanks will brown better when they are dry. Secure the meat to the bone with the kitchen twine. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour, shaking off excess.

In a large Dutch oven pot, heat vegetable oil until smoking. Add tied veal shanks to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.

In the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt at this point to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Return browned shanks to the pan and add the white wine and reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add the bouquet garni and 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Check every 15 minutes, turning shanks and adding more chicken stock as necessary. The level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank.

Carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter. Cut off the kitchen twine and discard.

Remove and discard bouquet garni from the pot.

Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.

Saralyn Richard

Saralyn Richard is the author of Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, and A Palette for Love and Murder. You can find out more about her on her website,, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Margaret E Mizushima
    Margaret E Mizushima

    Oh my goodness, Saralyn, you make my mouth water! Passing this recipe on to my husband who loves preparing meat of all kinds! Love your books!

    1. Avatar

      Hope you enjoy the osso bucco. It’s one of my favorites!

  2. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe

    If reading mysteries burns calories, we should all make a fortune selling them as diet books, lol.

  3. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    Looks scrumptious! Just what the man in my house loves to make in his big crockpots and dutch ovens. I love books that include food as part of the milieu and characterizations. I wonder what a full-course meal by the Blackbirds would look like? I bet it’d be amazing.

  4. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Saralyn, if your theory is true about reading books in the mystery genre, then I’m burning more calories than I’m consuming! Thanks for the fun blog. I’ll be in touch soon regarding your turn to be featured in my “Adults’ Reading Corner” for my April 30 Newsletter–unless I’ve wasted away to nothing.

    1. Avatar

      LOL, Sherrill. I’m reading as many mysteries as I can right now. I’ll let you know the results.

  5. Avanti Centrae
    Avanti Centrae

    If reading an edge-of-your seat novel burns calories, I wonder what writing one does!

  6. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    Information I probably shouldn’t have, Saralyn! I always felt popcorn was a necessity when reading. Now I feel completely justified in satisfying my cravings!

    1. Avatar

      I love the idea of popcorn while reading (like movies). Now you’ve given me a new craving! 🙂

  7. Tracey Phillips
    Tracey Phillips

    Oh, Saralyn! And I’m generally not a carnivore. Still, this sounds too good not to pass up! Clearly, the calories will fall away as I read your next book!

    1. Avatar

      Thanks, Tracey. I’m not much of a carnivore either, but osso bucco is an exception. It plays a role in two of my novels!

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