Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Meal: Butcher's Stew

Posted By on July 16, 2012, 11:38 AM

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When I lived in New York City, one of my favorite dining spots was Brunetta's, a small, family-run Italian cafe in the East Village. Frank Brunetta cooked up simple, home-style, rustic Italian fare --- and his wife usually waited on the handful of tables in the restaurant. Cheap wine was served in cheap water glasses, and it was terrific. Sadly, Brunetta's no longer exists.

A dish I could never get enough of at Brunetta's was veal stew. In Italy, it's often called Butcher's Stew (ragu del macellaio) and it can be made with just veal or with a combination of meats, such as boneless cubes of lamb, beef, pork and/or veal. I like it best using just veal, but boneless pork also works quite well and is more economical.

It takes about 2 hours to cook, so plan accordingly.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

12 oz. boneless stew meat (veal, preferably), cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup drained, diced canned tomatoes (Italian-style Romas are best)

1 1/2 cup chicken stock or water

2-3 small white or yellow potatoes, pealed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas

1/2 tsp. salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

minced parsley for garnish

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Method:

In a large, deep skillet or casserole, heat the olive oil and saute the sliced onion over medium heat until the onion softens, about three minutes.

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Add the meat and brown lightly, stirring occasionally.

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Add the tomatoes, salt, and a generous amount of black pepper. Stir.

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Pour in the chicken broth or water until it just barely covers the meat. Cook at a simmer, uncovered, for approximately 90 minutes. If the stew gets too dry, add a little more water or chicken stock.

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Add the potatoes to the pan and cook until fork-tender, but not mushy -- about 15-20 minutes.

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To finish, add the peas and the parsley and cook for an additional two minutes or so, just to heat the peas through. Taste for salt and pepper; adjust, if necessary.

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If the stew is a bit thin, add a 50/50 water/cornstarch paste to thicken it.

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Serve with rice or pasta on the side. The stew is pictured here with buttered farfalle. Gnocchi is also a great accompaniment.

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