Today I asked my husband and if he wanted some simple chicken stew and he replied, "No, veal stew." Happily I agreed; I had something fun to cook today! Especially in the winter, a hearty, one-pot meal is so comforting, and relatively easy. This stew can be made identically with rabbit, chicken or beef. My store did not have "stew" cut or chunks of veal so I bought two veal shanks, equalling 1.4 lbs, which is plenty for three people actually. (I can get carried away.)
Veal Stew/Stufato di Vitello
1 lb. veal chunks or two veal shanks (about 1.25-1.5 lbs)
one medium onion
1 cup red wine
4-5 Tbsp. chopped tomatoes or pureed tomatoes (or 2-3 Tbsp. tomato paste)
one garlic clove peeled, left whole, and stuck with one clove (the clove is optional)
1 celery stalk, diced finely
3-4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 large yukon gold potatoes (or 8 small ones), cut in small chunks
about 1 cup roughly chopped cremini (or brown) mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)
approximately 2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
Sautee the onion in some olive oil in a sturdy stew pot. Dust the veal pieces with flour. When the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, add the veal and brown on both (or all sides). Add the wine and cook down for about 10 minutes.
Add the tomato puree or paste and stir. Add the all the chopped vegetables and herbs and stir well.
Add the broth, water and some salt and pepper. Add enough broth so that it just covers the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Place the whole garlic clove on top of the vegetables, being careful not to stir it under. (You want to know where the garlic clove is at all times as you will remove it after about two hours of cooking.) Lower heat to a simmer and place lid on pot, but leave it slightly open (I put a wooden spoon across the top of the pot and rest the lid on that.) Stir every 20-30 minutes, being careful not to lose the garlic clove. Cook like this for 5 or more hours - the longer the better. Serve with a good, crusty bread, with a salad on the side for a great meal.
If you have less cooking time, use no water, just two cups broth and cook for about 3 1/2 hours. Less than that, it is just not tasty enough.
You can omit the potatoes and serve this over polenta. If you do, use about 1 cup less liquid so that the sauce is thicker.
I think rabbit is my favorite version of this stew, but that is a personal preference. Either way, it is really satisfying.
Enjoy with a medium to heavy bodied red wine like a Chianti Classico, Barbera, Barbaresco, Rosso di Montalcino, or something similar.