You all know by now that I prefer to stick to a vegetarian way of living. Not just for my own health, but for the health of our planet as well. However, it is not always that easy to adopt a 100% meat-free diet when everyone around me seems to be having an inexplicable love affair with all things animal. My brother loves his steak, my dad adores his honey glazed ribs and my mom devours everything that sounds even remotely Italian (From prosciutto di Parma to Mortadella di Bologna).
Which leads me to the following confession: I still eat meat sometimes. (Feel free to drop your jaw or gasp for air) Once every ten days I am seduced by the heavenly sent of Ossobuco or lamb Jalfrezi and succumb to family pressure to cook one of my world famous succulent stews.
This Roman veal stew was one of those moments. The tender meat was soft and juicy and the sauce elevated the stew to unseen levels of spice perfection. Add to that a creamy risotto with saffron and dots of pretty courgette and you have a meal you will never forget.
A true farewell meal.
Yes, you’ve read that correctly. I’m saying goodbye.
No, not to you. Don’t panic.
I’m saying goodbye to meat. Finally.
And I am not the only one, because in just a couple of days me and thousands of other fellow Belgians will try to make our country more vegetarian friendly by reducing our meat-consumption. This event is called “Dagen Zonder Vlees”, which means “Days Without Meat”. I’m sure the title is pretty self-explanatory?
Anyway, since I’m planning on dropping meat altogether, I thought it would be somewhat symbolic to end my days of eating meat with a yummy and super delicious meat dish. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe, but who the hell cares.
Roman veal stew with Risotto a la Milanese
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the stew:
- 800gr veal, cut into chunks
- Juice of an orange
- 3 carrots, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- ½ red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- Heaped tbsp. flour
- 1 can/ 400gr tomatoes
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp honey
For the risotto:
- 300gr Arborio rice
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ½ tsp saffron powder or saffron threads
- 1 courgette, finely chopped
- Glass of Marsala
- Parmesan cheese
- For the stew: heat a knob of butter in a large pot and fry the veal chunks until they have a nice brown colour. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- In that same pan, fry the onion, garlic, carrots and pepper for a couple of minutes and add the meat back to the pan. Add the flour to the pot and stir until everything is nicely coated with a thin layer of flour. Fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Pour in the orange juice, balsamic vinegar and add the tinned tomatoes. Once you’ve emptied the can of tomatoes, use it as a measuring cup for vegetable stock. Add just enough vegetable stock so that the meat is just covered with liquid. Add the spices, herbs and honey and let it simmer for 1-2 hours on a low heat.
- For the risotto: heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes. Stir in the rice and fry for a further couple of minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat half a litre of vegetable stock with the saffron.
- Add a glass of Marsala to the rice and stir until the wine has evaporated. Stir in the finely chopped courgette and season with salt and pepper. Now add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until each addition is almost completely absorbed. Once all the stock has been added, the rice should be tender and creamy.
- Finally stir in some grated parmesan to taste.