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Sunday, February 6, 2011


So tender you can cut it with a spoon
As Valentine's Day approaches, we start thinking about a special meal for our special someone.  My hubby is in town this week-end so I decided to do an early Valentine's dinner at home.  He may be home next week-end, and if so, we will likely eat out somewhere special...because we soon celebrate our anniversary.  February is a busy month for us! 

When I was last at Central Market I picked up two hugely awesome veal shanks.  The teen doesn't care for Osso Buco so I knew it would just be me and the husband :-)  Good thing...two big veal shanks set me back $35!  I thought this was supposed to be a poor man's stew.  No poor man can afford veal in the U.S.... unless they grow it themselves!  This was a labor of love - and the house smells delicious as it is cooking.  Here's how I tweaked my full-size recipe to be a perfect dinner for two!



Olive Oil - enough to cover bottom of Dutch Oven
Flour - for dredging the shanks
Sea Salt - fine grind for this, not kosher
Fresh ground pepper
2 veal shanks - the meatiest you can find - cut 4 to 5 inches thick
Butcher's twine
3 carrots - diced
3 celery stalks - diced
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 small to medium yellow onion - diced
15 oz can good quality whole peeled tomatoes - remove from juice - chop or squeeze into pan
1 small can (15oz) crushed tomatoes
1quart beef stock - I prefer the cartons - Organic if I can get it
1 cup Pinot Grigio (any good crisp white wine - one you would serve with dinner)
2 plum tomatoes, diced (or whatever looks freshest and smells freshest at the market - this time I used a largish tomato from Mexico - it smelled so "tomatoey" and the plums looked a bit anemic...go with what's best!)
6 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade plus more for sprinkling over the dish when served  (I used more this time because my husband brought some beautiful organic basil to me - he knows the way to my heart!)
Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the shanks by tying them around the outside with butcher's string.

Two beautiful pieces veal shank
 Season flour with fine sea salt and ground pepper.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven (oil should just cover the bottom of the pan)
Dredge veal shanks in flour, add shanks to Dutch oven and brown, turning frequently to get a good light brown crust...takes between 6-8 minutes. 

Browning the veal before removing
to saute the mirepoix and garlic

Remove shanks from pan to a plate and let rest while you saute the vegetable base.

Mis en place - mirepoix and garlic

Reduce heat to medium, add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.  Saute to soften. 

Saute the veg in the oil left in the pan
after browning the veal...good stuff in that pan!

Add canned tomatoes, and 1/2 quart of beef stock. Return the veal shanks to the pan, nestling them down into the vegetables and broth - the liquid should reach about halfway up the shank. Cover and let simmer about 45-50 minutes. 

Ready to simmer covered on stove top
Add the wine, the diced fresh tomatoes, the basil, and the remaining 1/2 quart stock to the pan.

Place uncovered in 375 degree oven for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours ... or until very tender.

Just out of the oven
Removing the shanks from the broth
 (Shanks are a leg muscle cut and tighten up in the earlier stages...then relax as they braise...the full length of cooking time is necessary to get to the very tender state you are looking for) Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from pot and snip the butcher's twine before serving.  The meat should be falling off the bone and melt in your mouth tender. 

Place prepared risotto (I used an easier version of the previously posted  3-Cheese Risotto) in two pasta bowls.  Place one veal shank in each bowl.  Ladle the broth/tomato sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with finely chopped basil.  A crusty loaf of bread.  A glass of good wine...some berries or other fresh fruit for dessert.  Mangia bene!  A very romantic and filling meal ... just for two!

You will likely have leftover "sauce" - save it and serve it over pasta for a second meal.... it is absolutely delicious tasting and will be even better the next day!  Leftovers say "lunch" to me!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!StumbleUpon

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