On Saturday, Tom and I ventured outside in the freezing cold. It turns out this was not the best idea for me since I tend to fall when there is even a tiny bit of ice out, and there was more than a tiny bit on Saturday. Ah, it was a sight to see; me clinging for dear life to the fences along the sidewalk. But I still fell. Sigh. Luckily, it was for a good cause because we were headed to the meat market to buy something for dinner. I debated between lamb and veal and eventually landed on veal stew meat because it sounded good and it was much more cost effective (not that this mattered, of course, because we bought other things and ended up spending too much, anyway).
I debated between a veal stew or some sort of veal pasta sauce and landed somewhere in between, with what I guess I could (and will) call a veal ragout. The meat stewed for an hour so it was extremely tender and stew-like, and then I added some small pasta (ditalini) in at the end, so it was a great one-pot meal and extremely comforting on a blistering cold Saturday.
Ragout of Veal with Ditalini
Serves about 4
3-4 slices bacon, chopped
1 lb. veal, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/3 cup marsala wine
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
2 cups ditalini pasta
3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
Heat a pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until it begins to crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. of the bacon fat.
Season the veal with salt and pepper. Add to the dutch oven and brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and saute until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute.
Add the marsala to the dutch oven and cook until it’s reduced by half. Stir in the mushrooms, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, thyme, marjoam, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Bring to a light boil and then add the veal back in. Cover and simmer for an hour (or as long as you want).
Stir in the ditalini and cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked. During the last 2 or 3 minutes of cooking, stir in the spinach so that it wilts. Add the bacon back in to warm through.