Tonight’s menu was written when we weren’t sure how many people would join us for dinner. The past weekend’s surprise snowstorm (15 inches in October) has caused power outages all over Connecticut. That means no school for many. Several neighboring families have no electricity so that they can cook, and Jessica has been on the phone sharing the love of her husband’s cooking.
The recipe below comes from today’s efforts. It’s been cut down to serve 4 or 5 at your table. I like to fill out the braising pan with chunks of veal stew meat thereby allowing for extra visitors or extra hungry family members. I’ve chosen to keep the tomatoes whole in the braising pan so that the resulting broth will be clear. If you like a darker, richer sauce, switch out the white wine for red and add tomato paste to the recipe (about 3 tablespoons should do).
Start by asking the butcher for 4 similar sized veal shanks (2/3 pound each is a good weight) and another pound of veal stew meat. When you set up to prepare the meal, first take the time to set the veal pieces on paper and season with salt and pepper. Then, continue with your prep as the meat sits. I think the meat should rest at room temperature for 20 minutes or more prior to cooking.
Ingredients (serve 4-5):
4 veal shanks (1/2 pound or more each, uniform sizes if possible)
1 pound cubed veal stew meat
1 large onion, diced
4 celery stalks, slice 1/4 inch
4 carrots (1 diced)
8 garlic cloves, stems removed, lightly smashed
2 cups chicken stock
1.5 cups white wine
1 16oz can whole peeled tomato
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh oregano
Cut the mirpoix to thumbnail pieces and mix with 1/2 of the herbs stripped of their stems. Open the tomato can and place the whole tomato pieces around the edges of the braising pan. Then, peel 3 more carrots and cut them into pieces that match the size of the end of your thumb. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Meanwhile, place a sauté pan on the stovetop over medium flame, adding 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan.
Once the butter has melted, place each veal shank on the pan and brown for 4-5 minutes then turn and repeat on the other side. Then, using tongs, transfer the veal to the braising pan. Follow the shanks by adding the stew meat to the same pan. There should be enough butter left from the shanks so that there is no new butter needed. Then, (once the veal has been transferred to the braising pan, use the same sauté pan and drippings to soften the mirpoix and garlic cloves, stirring over medium heat for 10 minutes.
As the aromatic vegetables are ready, pour them over the top of the browned meat and then bring the wine and chicken stock to a simmer in that same sauté pan. Season with salt and pepper. Finally, pour the warm stock over the rest and wrap the braising pan with tin foil, place in the oven for 2 hours, braising the meal frequently.
After 2 hours, uncover the pan. Place the carrots in the broth and top with the remaining herbs left on their stems. Re-cover the pot and return it to the oven, turning the heat down to 300° F for another hour. If you need more time prior to service, turn the oven down to 200 and hold as long as needed. Serve with pureed fall squash and mashed potatoes.