Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Braised Veal with Gremolata served with Whipped Root Vegetables

Need a meat and potatoes dish that is way different than your regular meat and potatoes? In this insane weather, we need something hearty and warming. The grill is buried in snow and besides, it is so cold out there your face could shatter and fall off even if you could get the grill to heat up. Enter braising - a decidedly winter preparation, designed to make your meats fall-apart tender with lots of delicious pan sauce.

We were looking for veal shanks (osso bucco) for this dish, but in this small town, after visiting several different grocery stores in the above mentioned face-shattering cold, we settled on veal shoulder chops. Not nearly as thick as the shanks, I cut the braising time down to 2 hours. Absolutely fall-apart tender delicious.

Serve them with easy-peasy whipped root veggies instead of standard mashies, add a simple salad, and you have a delicious gourmet dinner without a lot of hard work. You do, however, need some time. Plan accordingly. And let me know when dinner is, I'll bring the wine!

But what is braising?

Braising is a cooking technique, whereby the main ingredient is first browned and seared, then transferred to a pot of liquid for low and slow cooking, often in a Dutch oven or crock pot. Braising is often used as a way to cook less expensive, tough cuts of meat. The end result is tender and flavorful, and once the meat is in the liquid, it's a very low maintenance process. Also, since braising is a low and slow liquid cooking method, often braising will give you a fantastic gravy or sauce with your entrée or side dish. CBS News.

Braised Veal Shanks with Gremolata
Michael Symon, online recipe sourced from CBS News
for Michael Symon Sundays
Like the pot roast, this is another of those fundamental braised dishes, but here it's jazzed up with some gremolata. Many people serve this kind of dish with something rich, such as mashed potatoes; traditionally in Italy this would be served with a saffron risotto. But Symon thinks it's a mistake to pair rich with rich in most cases.

Veal Shanks

3/4 cup brine-cured green olives
6 2-inch-thick veal shank pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium-large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 salt-packed anchovy fillet, rinsed and chopped
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
11/2 cups Chicken Stock

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
11/2 teaspoons minced garlic, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

To make the veal, lightly crush the olives with the side of a large knife and discard the pits. Finely chop a third of them and set aside.

Pat the veal shanks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dredge each shank in flour and shake off the excess. In a 12-inch heavy sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and the butter over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Brown both sides of the shanks in batches, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the shanks to a roasting pan.

Wipe out the sauté pan and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and anchovy and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the olives, lemon zest, capers, rosemary, and wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the stock and return the liquid to a simmer. Pour over the shanks and cover the roasting pan tightly with foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 225°F and braise the shanks in the oven for 4 to 6 hours, or until the meat is very tender. If desired, let the shanks cool before covering and refrigerating for up to 2 days. Discard the fat from the top before reheating.

To make the gremolata, combine the parsley, zest, and garlic in a small bowl.

Transfer the shanks with a slotted spoon to another roasting pan or deep oven- proof platter and keep warm, covered, in the oven. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into a 1-quart (4-cup) glass measuring cup and reserve the solids, discarding the rosemary. Let the liquid stand until the fat rises to the top; skim and discard the fat. (There should be about 1 1/2 cups liquid. If necessary, in a saucepan simmer the liquid until it is reduced to 1 1/2 cups.) Add the reserved solids to the liquid, heat through, stir in the reserved olives, and pour over the shanks.

Serve the veal sprinkled with the gremolata.

Easy peasy Whipped Root Vegetables
adapted from Michael Symon

½ lb each of potatoes, white turnip, celery root, and parsnip - all cleaned, trimmed and peeled, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 Tbsp kosher salt
¼-½ cup butter

In a large heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, toss in the prepared veggies and cover liberally with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Strain very well and run through a food mill (5mm setting worked best for me). Add butter, a little at a time, and adjust seasonings to taste.