braised veal with red sauce: too good to be taken for granted

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braised beef

We are citizens of a country overrun with deficits, financial black holes and the dangerous demagogue policies that suck us into the crisis’ quagmire. Yet the daily efforts and sacrifices we make, instead of pulling us out of it, leave us experiencing only constant instability. Given all that, efforts made within the close family circle for whatever improvement is humanly possible, functions in a balancing way,  and counts more than ever.

I was thinking about all that one of these past days as I walked into the house in a state of extreme fatigue. The air had escaped from the kitchen, a few of its molecules strolling towards the entrance, scenting it with cinnamon and allspice. On the table, right next to a glass of merlot, stood a remarkably appealing braised veal, a staged surprise, which made me think at first, “How nice to have something waiting for you!” but then understood that this was more than “something”; because “something” gives a stingy connotation to the emotion, understating the reality.

It was long ago since I last tasted the flavour of this Greek classic, too busy with global culinary adventures, and as I was enjoying it, I had the opportunity to reassess its well-balanced elegance. So I thought to redo the braised veal and write about it, not because it is a rare recipe (though extremely delicious), but because we mustn’t disregard all the good things we have, offered to us with love, and take them for granted, or cast them aside as too obvious.

braised veal with red sauce

Preparing: 10 minutes, with approximately 2 hours for the cooking, during which you need be present for only 15 minutes. It is important a. the meat has to be completely dry, b. the meat should be cooked in minimum heat. Easy recipe. If you resist the temptation to add too much oil,  the result will be a relatively light dish.

Ingredients (for 4-5 people)
1.5 kg boneless veal, preferably shoulder (or shank, if you like the jelly it contains the particular cut), cut in pieces of 5 cm
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
3 tbsps olive oil
3 bay leaves
100 ml red wine
1 tin chopped tomatoes (preferably organic, because are sweet and do not need sugar)
1-2 tsps tomato paste
1 cinnamon stick
5-6 allspice berries
200 ml water
salt and freshly ground pepper

braised beef with red wine and tomato sauce

To prepare the meat: Dry the meat thoroughly with kitchen paper (it must be completely dry). Heat well the olive oil in a large wide pot over high heat and sauté the meat from all sides for 8-10 minutes. Remove the meat and add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring until soft. Add the meat, stir for another 1 minute and pour over the wine until it steams out.

To prepare the sauce: Add all the remaining ingredients and the water, bring to a boil and when it starts boiling reduce heat to low and simmer for 1½-2 hours, until the meat is very tender. Taste the sauce half way, and if needed, season with salt and pepper.

To serve: Serve on warm plates or platter (depending on the season), with rice or mashed potatoes or French fries. Braised veal with red sauce is simply perfect!

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