Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Very Simple Veal Stew with Polenta

This really is a lovely dish. The veal is mild. The sauce is mild. Even without the polenta, it's delicious on its own. Or with a bit of noodles or mashed potatoes on the side which, in the past, is how I would usually serve it. But this time, I wanted something a bit "lovelier" that would complement but not overpower the simple stew. Polenta with a bit of beef broth and Parmesan did the trick.

I have made this recipe for years. I have no idea where I got it. I did a few quick searches on the Internet and found one on All Recipes, but I know that's not where I got it. Five or so years ago, I included it in a "family cookbook" I gave away as gifts. A similar recipe appears in the vintage "Antoinette Pope Cookbook."

If you're like me, you ask yourself how a simple recipe of meat, onions, a bit of garlic and tomato sauce can work. Well, it does!

Veal is not always easy to find. And, like most meats, it has gone up in price. Sometimes, a supermarket will cut up veal it can't sell into "stew meat" at a lower price. That's the time to snatch it.

I had intended to make the polenta in advance so it could "set up." I thought I'd slice it and give it a quick sear in a pan. But "loose" seemed the way to go. 

Rosemary can be overpowering, so be careful. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Plate #2 in a series of six that I painted many, many years ago.

Serves 2-3. Easily Doubled
  • 1 lb. veal stew meat, patted dry
  • 6 tablespoons tomato sauce (canned is just fine)
  • 1/4 cup dry, white wine
  • 1-1.5 cups diced onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1, 3-inch rosemary frond
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil/butter

Melt a bit of butter and olive oil in a skillet. When sizzling, add the veal and brown. Remove from pan and set aside. You may to do this in two batches. It's not necessary to cook the veal all the way through.

Add onion to skillet and cook just until they begin to soften a bit. Add the garlic. Stir until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and wine. Add a bit of salt but more pepper. Add the thyme. Reduce to low and simmer for about 1.5-2 hours, covered. About thirty minutes before serving, add the rosemary sprig.

  • 1.5 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta (I use Red Mill)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pepper
  • Smoked paprika (optional)

Bring beef broth, water and salt to a boil. Using a whisk, slowly whisk in the polenta and lower heat to medium. Stir for 15 minutes until thick. Hold the whisk firmly while stirring. The easiest way to do this is to make a fist and insert the handle into it. This gives you more leverage without tiring your hand.

I have to say . . . I do love plain old McCormick black pepper.

Remove from heat and stir in butter and pepper. Add cheese and stir until melted and incorporated. Pour into a lightly buttered/oiled small loaf pan. At this point, I lightly sprinkle a bit of smoked paprika on one half. Cover with cling wrap and allow to "set." You can make this ahead and refrigerate. When ready to serve, slice and fry in a bit of olive oil just until warmed through.

This will make more polenta than you need for this recipe of veal stew. I like the paprika half to use with the stew. The other half I will slice for leftovers.

Yep, I licked the plate!