Thursday, January 27, 2011

Veal Stew by Tom

Tom's Veal Stew

Last Friday we had dubbed as International Foods Night.  So while Barbara was looking through Mexican, Chinese and Japanese cookbooks for genuine international ideas, I turned to "San Francisco Flavors", which was done by the Junior League of San Francisco back in 1999.  My logic was that San Francisco has a very ethnically diverse population, so maybe something good to make and eat could be found.  And sure enough, I found this veal stew recipe.

Actually the recipe was not exactly for veal stew, but our ingredients search led me to this variation.  Instead of the veal shanks that the recipe called for, I used veal chunks and beef bones to enrich the broth.  That was Barbara's idea since there were no veal shanks at our Wegman's that day.

So not atypical of most of my recipes this is an adaptation of a "San Francisco Flavors" recipe.  It turned out even better than the recipe in the book, or at least that is my story and I am sticking to it!


Makes 4-6 servings

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large sweet onions chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped garlic, about 4 cloves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 bay leaves
1 pound fresh mushrooms
3 large red potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
~2 pounds of veal cut into stew-sized pieces
2-3 beef bones (optional, but adds flavor depth to the broth)
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour for coating the veal before braising
1 cup good dry red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Start by soaking the dried mushrooms in the boiling water for at least 30 minutes.  Once they have soaked, remove from the soaking liquid, but retain the liquid.  It will go into the stew for flavoring.  Chop the mushrooms once rehydrated and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  This is a slow cooking method which results in very tender veal pieces.

Chop the onions and potatoes.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add half, or ~2 tablespoons, of the olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions are soft but not browned.

I did this concurrently, but you can do this after you have done all of the vegetable sauteing. 

Season the veal pieces with salt and pepper, and then dredge the pieces in flour.  Heat the remaining olive oil, and once hot add the veal pieces and the beef bones in a large skillet.  Braise the meat while the vegetables are cooking.  This will take 8 - 10 minutes.
Next add the porcini mushrooms and the fresh mushrooms to the onion mixture, and cook these for another 4 minutes or so.  The fresh mushrooms should just start to soften and shrink a bit.

This is how the meat should look after braising.  Notice that there is a some amount of liquid in the skillet as a result of the braising.  You want to add this eventually to the Dutch oven, so don't drain the meat prior to transfer.

After the 4 minutes or so of cooking the mushrooms, add the red potato pieces and continue to cook for another 4 minutes.

Add the meat and pan juices to the Dutch oven, and the red wine, beef stock, reserved mushroom liquid and the lemon juice.  Stir the mixture up.

I mention in the recipe to use a good red wine.  Just like you do not want to drink bad red wine, you do not want to cook with it either.  I used a Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon, which has a very nice, deep flavor.  This is not an expensive red wine, so I felt good about using it in this dish.
Cover the dish and place in the preheated oven for about an hour and 15 minutes, or until the veal is tender.
After the oven time, remove the Dutch oven from the oven, and place on a burner over medium-high heat.  This is the step that really consolidates the flavors.  Cook the mixture down for another 20-30 minutes until it thickens slightly..  Use your judgment on this step.  Because the liquid is hot, it will not seem as thick while cooking as it will be when it cools.  You may also need to add a little more salt and pepper during this stage, so be sure to taste your concoction for proper seasoning.
Remove the bay leaves before serving, and dish this veal stew up.  The veal pieces were incredibly tender, and the overall flavor we really liked.  Given our really cold weather, this stew was perfect for a cold winter's night.



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