I ended up making this stew a bit by mistake or by necessity.
You see, when I went to Italy this summer, I bought three Italian cookbooks, written in Italian of course, and told myself I would have a blast trying out wonderful, traditional recipes. Last Saturday, I took one of these books with me, went to the market and sat down at a table at the Tea Store, sipping a good cup of tea and decided I was going to make a veal dish. It took me a good hour to decide what I would make but the decision had been made.
The only problem is that, well, I don’t speak Italian. I thought I had chosen a recipe for a veal stew, and bought what I needed. When I got home and started translating the recipe with the appropriate tools, I realized I had bought the wrong cut of meat. I couldn’t let these beautiful cubes go to waste so here you go, I ended up making this impromptu, accidental veal stew. And it was pretty good.
Spezzatino di vitello con piselli
1/4 cup olive oil
750 g veal cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
5 thin slices pancetta, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 whole clove
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup frozen or fresh peas
salt and pepper to taste
1. Season the veal cubes with salt and pepper and cook them over medium-high heat in the oil until they start to brown. You will need to work in batches. Keep the cooked meat in a small dish and set aside.
2. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the vegetables and the pancetta. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste and mix it well with the vegetables, stirring for one minute.
4. Add the meat back in the pot along with the wine. Increase the heat to medium-high and let the wine reduce by half.
5. Add the broth, the clove and the bay leaf, bring to a boil then reduce to simmer, cover and cook until the veal is tender, about 1 hour. Stir the stew once in a while and check the meat for doneness. You may have to add more broth. If the stew is too liquid, uncover and let it reduce.
6. When the meat is done, turn the heat off and add the peas. Cover and let the stew rest for about 10 minutes. Serve in a warm dish with soft polenta.