Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Veal Marengo with Fettuccine Pasta

     Spezzatino di Vitello alla Marengo
     This classic Italian veal stew that is cooked in the style of Marengo, Italy.  Stew (Spezzatino) is often overlooked by fine dining chefs when planning a menu, because stew is thought of as being too casual.  Honestly, stew not only provides casual comfort, stew can also be a gourmet item.  I have prepared Veal Marengo at fine dining restaurants many times and this stew is respected as a classic entrée.
     There are a few ways to present Veal Marengo.  Veal Marengo can be served with rice or bread.  Back in the 1980's, serving Veal Marengo over fettuccine pasta was a popular way to present this entrée.

     The history of Veal Marengo is not quite as famous as Napoleon Boneparte's Chicken Marengo, which was created with scavenged local ingredients during the French occupation of Marengo, Italy, while at war with the Ottoman Empire.  Veal Marengo is made with almost the same ingredients, but the cooking style is definitely Italian.  
     A fried egg on a piece of toast, was considered to be a high class garnish for an entrée in the late 1700's.  The fried egg on toast garnish was Napoleon's favorite, so of course it was part of the Chicken Marengo recipe.
     It is not necessary to garnish Veal Marengo with a fried egg on toast.  Veal Marengo is usually served plain in the modern age, but some chefs do garnish this stew with an egg.  The egg garnish was kind of a French idea in the first place.  Not all Italian chefs subscribe to this custom, but some do.  If the egg garnish option is applied, the egg can be poached or fried.  The egg does not have to be placed on toast, because the egg on toast garnish was abandoned sometime in the early 1800's.
     The flavor of Veal Marengo is not spicy.  The flavor is very bold, because the olives impart a strong flavor.  The selection of white wine also makes a difference.  Many chefs say that Dry Vermouth is the correct choice.

     Spezzatino di Vitello alla Marengo (Veal Marengo):
     This recipe yields 1 large hearty serving or 2 petite portions.
     Veal stews typically do not need to simmer all day, because the veal meat will be tender after a short cooking time. 
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of imported Italian canned whole San Marzano Tomatoes packed in their own juices into a mixing bow.  (Add a proportion of the juice.)
     Hand squeeze and crush the tomatoes.
     Set the tomatoes aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of pomace olive oil.
     Add 8 ounces of veal stewing meat that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Sauté and stir occasionally till the veal pieces start to lightly brown.
     Step 3:  Add 3 sliced garlic cloves.
     Add 2 small shallots that are coarsely chopped. 
     Add 1/2 cup of mixed red and green bell pepper that are cut into bite size pieces.
     Add 5 small button cave mushrooms that are cut in half.
     Sauté till the vegetables are cooked al dente.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of dry white wine.
     Stir and deglaze the pan.
     Step 5:  Add the reserved tomatoes.
     Add 12 to 14 pitted ripe black olives.
     Add 1 tablespoon of capers.
     Add 10 to 12 pitted green olives.
     Add 2 pitted Kalamata Olives or 2 pitted Oil Cured Olives that are finely minced.
     *The small amount of minced Kalamata Olive or Oil Cured Olive is added just to increase flavor.  Both of these kinds of olives have very strong flavors.
     Step 6:  Add enough veal broth or light beef broth to cover the ingredients with 1" of extra liquid.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of sage.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 2 pinches of basil.
     Add 2 pinches of oregano.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 8:  Gently simmer and reduce till the stewing sauce is a medium thick consistency that easily clings to the pieces of veal meat.
     Step 9:  Remove the bay leaf.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley while stirring.
     Keep the stew warm over very low hear or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Veal Marengo with Fettuccine Pasta:
     This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of fettuccine in boiling water over high heat till it is al dente.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Step 2:  Place the fettuccine on a plate, so the pasta forms a ring against the border of the plate.  The center of the plate should be bare.
     Mound a generous portion (about 1 1/2 cups) of the Veal Marengo on the the center of the plate inside the pasta ring.
     Step 3:  Sprinle 1 or 2 teaspoons of Pecorino Romano Cheese over the stew and pasta.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Garnish with a fried egg or poached egg on top.  (optional)

     Spezzatino di Vitello alla Marengo is one of the tastiest classic veal stews!

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