Tag Archives: Veal

Sorta Swedish meatballs

19 Jan

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When the woman that you love is ailing and informs you, in the most certain possible terms, that a very particular comfort food will make everything all better, well…

Swedish meatballs?” I muttered. “What’s the matter, my meatballs won’t make you feel better?”

The most grownup of grownups I am not.

I know this.

Nonetheless.

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My beloved’s Swedish meatballs are, I will admit, quite wonderful. I just haven’t made them before—and she chose not to provide me with a recipe. I know that she always includes mushrooms in her sauce and so to start things off I sauteed 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms in plenty of butter until browned, then set them aside until later.

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I have no idea how she makes her meatballs but strongly suspect that they include very finely diced onion. And so, in olive oil this time, I sauteed one medium onion diced very finely until completely softened.

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At this point I was on my own, and so you’re just gonna have to follow along with me here: Mix together 1 lb. of chopped veal and 1 lb. beef, then form a ring on a work surface. In the center add a few slices of white bread that’s soaked in milk and torn apart; one egg; the cooked onion; a very good dose of nutmeg; and salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix everything together by hand. The mixture should be moist, not dry; add more milk if necessary.

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Fry up a little bit of the mixture and make sure that things taste good before making the meatballs. If you want to make adjustments to the seasoning now’s the time.

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Swedish meatballs are pretty small and so this mix netted 50 meatballs exactly.

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Fry them in olive oil until almost cooked through, in batches of course, then set aside.

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Drain off some of the oil but leave enough to nicely coat the pan. Add a little all-purpose flour and incorporate, making sure to scrape up the bits of meat that will have stuck to the pan.

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After a couple minutes of scraping and cooking the flour with the oil you’re ready to move along.

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Add a quart of stock (I used veal stock but most any will do) and incorporate with the flour and the oil. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring often.

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Then add the sauteed mushrooms.

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And then the meatballs.

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The only other ingredient that I knew I must use is sour cream (not heavy cream, which is more common in Swedish meatballs). And so after the meatballs have warmed in the sauce turn off the heat and stir in 4 ounces of sour cream (at room temperature) until fully incorporated.

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Personally I might have gone with a homemade pappardelle but the woman who needed the comforting is of the store-bought egg noodle persuasion—at least under these particular circumstances. And so that is what her Swedish meatballs are resting atop here.

See, I can be a grownup too. Sometimes.

Stuffed veal breast

5 Jan

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I won’t lie to you. This takes a bit of doing.

Just getting your hands on a proper veal breast requires planning—better still, close proximity to a good butcher. I needed to order this one through friends who own a restaurant here in Maine; they had to get it from a supplier that’s two hours away, in Boston.

So, you’ve been warned.

If you live in a place like New York or Philadelphia or Boston there’s likely a butcher nearby who can set you up quick, fast, and in a hurry. Otherwise you’ll need to strategize a bit, that’s all.

You won’t be sorry, though. Few things are as satisying as a well-prepared stuffed veal breast. Before we became legally conjoined My Associate, a finer cook than I’ll ever be, prepared for me some very fine ones, and in a kitchen no bigger than a broom closet. I would be remiss to not mention her able assistance in this, my first attempt at stuffing the breast.

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Saute a couple of onions and as many celery stalks in olive oil until softened, then set aside and allow to cool thoroughly. (You may be interested in this two-part video from a Julia Child show; what I’ve done here is follow much of the technique and some of the recipe, altering things as I saw fit.)

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For the stuffing I went with a mixture of ground veal and pork (1 lb. of the veal, about 1 1/2 lbs. of the pork), then added 1/2 lb. of diced mortadella and 1/2 cup of raw pistachios.

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Then went in 3/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/2 cup grated Pecorino, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, a healthy dose of chopped thyme, marjoram and sage, salt and pepper to taste, a few dashes of nutmeg, plus the sauteed onion and celery. Mix it all up and—this is very important—fry up a little bit and taste the mixture to make sure it’s to your liking. Now would be the time to adjust the seasonings before moving forward.

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Layer the bottom of a large roasting pan with carrots, the cloves of an entire head of garlic, some shallots (or onions), leeks and plenty of fresh herbs.

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Lay your veal breast over the roasting pan so that you can determine how much of it will fit into the pan. The veal breast that I scored from my friends was nearly 20 pounds and so I had to cut several ribs off and save them for another day. (Tip: When ordering a veal breast make sure to tell the butcher what you’re planning on doing with it. You don’t want a breast that’s been trimmed too close to the ribs because that will make it difficult to pull this off; it’s important to have a good layer of meat on the bone.)

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Using a sharp knife carefully cut along the ribs to create a pocket for the stuffing. Make sure to cut along the entire length and depth of the breast so that the stuffing can fill as much of the inner surface area as possible. Stop cutting around half an inch from the edges so that the stuffing won’t escape from the pocket while the breast is cooking.

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Liberally salt both the inside and outside of the breast, then fill the pocket with the stuffing.

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Tie the breast with butcher’s twine, place in the roasting pan and put it in an oven that’s preheated to 400 degrees F, uncovered, for 30 minutes. This will allow the breast to brown just a bit.

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Remove the breast from the oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees F. Add a bottle of white wine (I used an inexpensive Trebbiano) and around four cups of stock (I used chicken stock).

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Cover tightly with foil and return to the oven. After four hours check to see that the meat is super tender. It should be. At this point remove the foil, raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F, and return the breast to the oven, uncovered, for another 30 minutes. This will allow the crust to brown a bit more.

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This is pretty much what you’ll be looking at when you’re finished. Plenty of liquid will remain, which can be strained, de-fatted and ladled over the meat before serving.

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Speaking of serving, you can either slice off individual ribs and serve with the bone and all. Or, just pull the ribs away from the meat and stuffing and slice portions of whatever thickness you like.

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It all worked out pretty well.

For a first timer.

They call me Mr. Meatloaf

10 Nov

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I know, I know. Nobody needs me to tell them how to make a meatloaf.

When did that ever stop me from running my mouth off?

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I usually start out with potatoes, carrots and whole garlic cloves in a roasting pan with olive oil. This goes into the oven at 350 degrees F.

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While the vegetables are roasting I throw together the meatloaf mix. This is around a pound of ground veal. That’s what I always use. No beef, no pork, just veal.

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An egg, some milk, a little bit of breadcrumb, some Parmigiano-Reggiano, and freshly ground black pepper.

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Mix it all up by hand and then form it into a loaf, like so.

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After the vegetables have roasted for around 40 minutes or so place the meat right on top and return to the oven.

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And in around 30 minutes you should be all set.

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What was I gonna do, not share?

Veal & mortadella agnolotti

24 Apr

Most of the homemade mortadella we made around the holidays got sliced up (nice and thin!) and eaten as-is. But not all of it.

The stuff makes a fine ingredient for a pasta filling, you know. And this filling is the best to come out of our recent batch of mortadella.

Of course, you don’t have to make your own mortadella to put these agnolotti together. Just go out and buy some of the stuff and get to work.

Now.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in around a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add 1 pound ground veal.

Once the veal has browned a bit add 1/3 cup or so of either white wine or vermouth and turn up the heat.

Allow the wine to evaporate, then turn off the heat and let the veal cool a bit.

Dice 1/4 pound of mortadella (makes no difference if you use a hunk or slices).

In a food processor add the veal, mortadella, 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and one egg, then process until completely blended.

Taste and adjust seasoning as you like. (You could add more cheese, or a little salt, perhaps a dash of nutmeg.)

Instead of using a pastry bag I always put my pasta fillings in a strong plastic bag that can be thrown away after I’m finished. (Of course, you’ll need to cut the tip off in order to allow the filling to be squeezed out.)

Roll out your pasta dough on the thin side and around 3 or 4 inches wides.

If your dough is very moist you can skip this step; otherwise brush a little egg wash along the far edge before rolling the dough around the filling.

Use your finger to press down and form the individual agnolotti (I made these on the longish side, but smaller works great too).

This is basically what it will look like once you’ve worked your way along the entire roll.

All that’s left to do now is cut the individual agnolotti.

I boiled and served these in freshly made chicken broth (or brodo) and topped the agnolotti with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly ground black pepper. The reason I chose to go with a classic and simple brodo is so that the veal and mortadella filling can really stand out.

And it did.

Which is a very good thing.

How to make Genovese sauce

25 Sep

The origin of this sauce is unclear.

Though its name implies a specialty of the port town Genoa, the capital of the Liguria region, good luck finding it anywhere near the place. Rather, the onion-based ragu can be gotten in the Campania region of Italy, specifically around the province of Naples.

Don’t ask me why.

Anyhow, my family’s roots just happen to be planted around Naples. And so when the time came to use my newly harvested garden onions to try making this Genovese sauce, I did the sensible thing to seek guidance: I dialed up my Aunt Anna.

“Didn’t I just talk to you a day or two ago?” she asked.

Anna and I speak regularly but not this regularly.

“Yeah, but I forgot to ask you about this sauce I’m in the middle of making.”

“A what?”

“A sauce. I think you used to make it when we were kids.”

After repeating the word sauce four times and spelling it twice, it was clear that my dear aunt and I were getting nowhere together very fast.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying. Here, tell Frank.”

Cousin Frank is Anna’s son in-law, what with him being married to her daughter Josephine. The two of them just happened to be having lunch with both Anna and Aunt Rita when I called.

“Your aunt isn’t wearing her hearing aid,” Frank said by way of introduction. “I honestly don’t know how you two manage to talk on the phone at all.”

It occurred to me to say that the 300 miles separating my aunt and me doesn’t leave us a lot of options, but I was literally in the middle of getting the ragu started for a dinner party later that same day.

Time was of the essence, as this is the kind of ragu that must be cooked for hours or not at all.

“Just ask her if she used to make a pasta sauce that uses a huge amount of onions, and no tomatoes whatsoever,” I told my cousin. “It’s also got meat in it but the onions are the big thing.”

Dutifully Frank relayed my query, though he too had to repeat himself to be understood.

“She’s shaking her head ‘no’,” Frank told me. “And she’s about the grab the phone from my hand, so goodbye, say hi to ….”

“You’re making a tomato sauce without tomatoes?” Anna cried. “What are you, crazy? Why would you do that?”

“Not tomato sauce, Anna. It’s made with onions and meat and it’s Napoletana so I figured you might know it. I’m making it right now, in fact.”

“You have a recipe?” she asked.

“No, that’s why I called you, to see how you might have made it. I’m just kinda winging it here.”

“You’re singing? I thought you were cooking.”

This is about the time I told Anna that I had to go.

“If it turns out good I’ll give you the recipe. Give my love to Rita. And put in your freaking hearing aid, would you.”

“I love you too” is all I heard before my aunt hung up and was gone.

One day, hopefully many many years from now, I am going to miss these conversations.

Whether they make any sense or not.

Anyhow, these are some of the onions from my garden. I wanted to cook something where they would be a central ingredient, which is how the Genovese ragu came to mind.

Start with a good bit of olive oil and around half a stick of butter.

Once the butter has melted add 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of veal stew meat and brown. Then remove the meat and set aside. (Beef or pork would work fine as well.)

After removing the veal add three finely diced carrots, four diced celery stalks and maybe five chopped garlic cloves (I actually used seven). Sauce until softened.

Then add in the veal.

And then add three pounds of sliced onions.

At this point you’ve got a choice of adding some kind of stock or white wine. I went with around a quart of freshly made chicken stock.

Now add some salt and pepper to taste, incorporate, and cover the pot. Turn the heat to around medium and simmer for a few hours, checking and stirring periodically. The onions will release a lot of moisture, and over time they will completely break down. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to add any other liquid at all, but do so if necessary.

This ragu cooked for around four hours. It’s on the thick side, as I believe it should be, but decide for yourself how moist you’d like it. As you can see, the long cooking time didn’t just break down the onion but the veal, too.

As for which pasta to use, aim towards the hearty, not the delicate. I made these mafalde nice and thick and they worked out fine, but something like a rigatoni or paccheri, or even ziti would be perfect.

It turned out pretty well and so I’m going share the recipe with my aunt.

Hopefully she’ll be able to hear me this time.

Veal & peas

8 Aug

I was in an old-school mood last night.

Veal and peas (spezzatino di vitello con piselli) isn’t the kind of thing you see around very much. The last time I saw it on a menu was in Rhode Island, at a crazy place called Mike’s that operates out of a VFW hall. (Don’t laugh. Mike’s has been a seriously good source for old-school Italian food for years. I’d give a lot to have a place like that nearby.)

Anyhow, I’d made a batch of my meatballs over the weekend and had some veal stew meat leftover (I grind the veal to make the meatballs). Next thing you know I see some fresh peas at a farmstand nearby, and, well, there you go.

When the two pounds of fresh peas that I’d gotten (for $14, by the way) only netted out at a cup of peas I decided to add frozen. No matter. Whether you go with fresh or frozen just make sure to have around two cups of peas total.

This is a little over a pound of veal stew meat, trimmed and cut into small pieces. 

In a pan saute one chopped onion, a finely diced carrot and two cloves of garlic in olive oil. Do this at a low to medium flame so that things don’t brown too much, if at all.

Once the onions and carrots have softened add around 1/3 cup of dry white wine or vermouth (which is what I used here).

I also added a little fresh thyme at this point.

After the wine has evaporated add around 3/4 cup of chopped tomatoes. These are fresh from the garden but canned is fine too.

Then add in the veal.

Now add enough stock to cover things up (I used around 3/4 quart of homemade chicken stock). Add a little salt and freshly ground pepper and make sure the flame is on low so that the veal can simmer for a while.

The quality and age of the veal will affect how long it needs to cook, but figure on around 90 minutes or so, possible even two hours. I tasted the veal at the 70-minute mark and it was pretty much all there, and so I stirred in the peas and just a little more stock and let things simmer another 10 minutes before turning off the heat.

As I said, old school.

Just how I like it.

Whole braised veal shanks

6 Oct

I had the great pleasure of acting as witness to the nuptials of some very dear friends yesterday afternoon, an intimate affair at their home overlooking Casco Bay.

Somebody (I won’t say who) decided that it might be swell if I prepared two of the five courses served. One was a pasta (of course), the other these veal shanks.

It’s a really simple dish to prepare.

Salt the shanks well on all sides — and I do mean well. This is no time to be shy. Under-salting at this stage will substantially diminish the flavor of the meat.

In a Dutch oven brown the shanks in hot olive oil, then remove and set aside.

Add lots of leeks and plenty of garlic to the oil, lightly brown, and add some white wine. I also used several anchovy fillets, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can also add carrots and celery if you like.

Place the shanks back into the pot and add enough chicken stock to nearly cover them. Also add plenty of herbs (there’s rosemary, thyme, and marjoram here, and I tied them together with string so that they could be removed later on). Cover and place into a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 325-350 for another 2 hours.

With a fork check to see that the meat is super tender. Dishes like this are always better the next day and so I’d suggest allowing the whole thing to cool and putting the pot in the fridge overnight.

The next day simply reheat, carve up the shanks, and serve them like so. This was the last course of the afternoon, and it seemed to go over pretty well.

Scott Tyree & Giovani Twigge, 10-5-13
Except how do you compete with one of these jobs, am I right?

Nice job, gents!