Saturday dinner: Veal stew forestière

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I thought it was funny that The Kid woke up at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday. She usually makes it until 6:30 or 7 on the weekends. I found it funnier when I got home from my Starbucks run that it felt about as warm in my kitchen as it did in my driveway.

“Hey,” The Wife bellowed from our living room. “Is the vent in the kitchen blowing cold air?”

It was.

Thus, a serious of dominoes fell. I called the furnace repair company, The Wife took The Kid to The In-Laws’ house. I sat/napped in the cold until The Furnace Guy came and fixed the issue (apparently, I need a new inductor). We laid out $210 for a service call, labor and $3 worth of “inductor lube” (The Furnace Guy’s words, not mine). The Wife and The Kid came back, after extending a dinner invitation to The In-Laws. I went to Wegmans.

IMG_1751Had it just been The Wife and me, I was going to make duck, fulfilling one of my New Year’s Resolutions/Things I Want To Do in 2013 list. With an additional three people for dinner (The Wife’s aunt Barbara usually joins after the trio attend Saturday evening mass.), I scratched the bird and went for something we have not had here in a while: veal.

IMG_1753I have a soft spot for veal and went through a phase where I cooked more veal than beef. It would go into marinara sauce, on the grill, under the broiler, into burgers… I’m certain that I was the only student at St. Bonaventure University during the late 1990s that was buying it on a semi-regular basis. I looked at it this way: I worked two jobs during the summer, I should at least eat well.

In my search for a veal stew, I came across a French version developed by Kerry Saretsky at Serious Eats that I thought would appeal to the assemblage of people joining us for dinner.

WHAT WORKED: The balance. Nothing overpowered here. I was pleased with the fact that everything was complementary and not fighting for attention.

IMG_1761WHAT DIDN’T: Only two pieces of ham. Yeah, listen, you’re going to end up eating at least half a piece after it comes out of the oven. And, if you’re married to a woman who loves salty food, she’s going to eat another half. I ended up cooking three pieces and I’m glad I did.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “That was really good.” She’s a woman of few words.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: It might. It’s a simple elegant dish that can be used for entertaining.

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Veal stew forestière
By Kerry Saretsky @ Serious Eats

IMG_17572 tbsp. light olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. veal stew meat
4 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 8 oz. boxes of sliced wild mushrooms (including shiitake, oyster, cremini)
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 cups beef stock
6 stems thyme
2 slices Jambon de Bayonne, or Prosciutto
1 tsp. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup cream

IMG_1755Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a stew pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Sear the cubes of meat on all sides. The meat will not be cooked through. Remove it to a plate while you get on with the rest of the stew.

Add a bit of light olive oil or butter to the pot if it needs it, and lower the heat to medium-low. Add the shallots and the garlic and sweat very gently for 1 minute, until the shallots are translucent, and the garlic is fragrant. Add the mushrooms to the pot, and turn up the heat slightly. Cook until soft and a touch brown around the edges: 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

IMG_1759Deglaze the pan with the sherry. For safety, pour the 1/2 cup sherry into a separate cup, take the pan off the heat, and add it in. Turn the heat up so that the sherry bubbles and reduces. Add the meat back into the pot. Add the beef stock and the thyme. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. When the pot boils, reduce the heat to low, and cook covered for 2 hours. Meanwhile, spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Lay out two slices of Jambon de Bayonne or Prosciutto on the baking sheet, and place in the 450°F oven for 10 minutes until crisp. Allow to cool. Brake the crispy ham into salty shards.

IMG_1763Make a beurre manié by mashing together the butter and the flour. Stir into the stew, and let it bubble up a few minutes until the stew has noticeably thickened. Take the pot off the heat, and stir in the cream. Pull out the stems of thyme. Add the crispy shards of ham on top.

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