As we wrap up our 3-month stay here in the region of Marche, Italy, I’ve become sad. Sad because I will miss Christmas here, which will be a wonderful family-oriented affair; sad at no more afternoon walks along the olive groves; sad that taking a walk along a beach, so easy here, would be an all-day driving adventure in L.A. (even though we live only ten miles inland); and sad to not have access to the wonderful cooking ingredients that are so easy to find here but are completely absent in the USA. But I will remember that omnipresent Italian phrase: Ci vediamo! (We will see each other soon!)
During our last full week here, the weather is cool with occasional rain. Winter is right around the corner. So, we invited my cousin’s son Francesco and his friends Andrea and Lorenzo over for dinner to taste and share a bottle of Tuscan Brunello that my sister brought on a visit from her apartment in Montalcino. I figured, with Brunello, I should make some Tuscan food – so ribollita and veal spezzatino were on the menu.
The recipes and the wine may have been Tuscan, but everything else was from the local area. The appetizers, veal, vegetables, beans–the only exception was the cheese, all the way from the Parma area — all of two hours distant! In fact, every single vegetable came from the same greengrocer (fruttivendolo) just down the hill, which proudly displays little “KM0” (0 kilometers away) signs to indicate the product is local. Shopping and eating local is not a new thing here – it’s the only thing!
So for now, ci vediamo, Italia! I will miss Italy, my family, new friends, the food, the wine, the beach and the slower pace of life. But we will be back in the springtime and I look forward to more adventures in my second home.Print
As with all Italian recipes, this one’s all about the quality of the ingredients. Seek out the best veal, vegetables and peas you can find! This dish goes well served over mashed potatoes or creamy polenta.
- 2 lbs veal stew meat
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stem
- 1 small onion
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Olive oil, salt and pepper
- Prepare the vegetables: Peel the carrot. Dice the carrot, celery and onion into small (1/8-inch or so) cubes.
- Prepare the veal: If not cubed already, cut the veal into 1-inch cubes. Dry the veal with paper towels and liberally salt and pepper the pieces.
- In a medium-sized pot with a lid, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over a medium-high heat. In small batches, add and brown the veal pieces all over. Do not rush this step or overcrowd the pan. You want a medium-dark sear on all the pieces. Remove to a bowl.
- Add additional olive oil to the pan, heat and then add the chopped vegetables. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stir, cover and cook over medium heat to “sweat” the vegetables. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are soft and take on a deep rich color.
- Add the wine and bring to a boil. Stir to scrape up all the brown bits in the pan from when you sautéed the veal.
- Add the veal back in and then cover with enough chicken broth to cover all the veal pieces. Add the tomato paste and dissolve it into the broth.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Taste the hot liquid and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover the pot and simmer for about 1-1/2 hours, gently stirring occasionally. Add more broth if needed to keep the veal covered.
- Add the frozen peas and cover the pot. Cook for another 1/2 hour. Check a piece of veal for doneness. It should be falling-apart tender. If it’s still tough, continue to simmer until tender. Do not raise to a high boil as this will dry out the meat.
- You can serve this dish immediately or cool, refrigerate and re-heat later.