During the past few years I have reduced my meat consumption greatly. I have become a “flexitarian” (a person who eats meat occasionally, as a “seasoning” and in much smaller quantities than the leafy greens, dairy, legumes, grains and/or vegetables etc. that are in my plate). It was not a dramatic decision I made one day but rather gradual little changes and adjustments I have done during the past 2 years. I believe in eating fresh, natural, whole foods even though you may allow yourself to eat a decadent dessert once in a while, or like my brother Manolo says; “Allow yourself a treat only on Sundays to satisfy cravings!”. Add exercise to the equation and you have the basic formula to keep a balanced lifestyle. By making homemade meals from fresh ingredients we know what we are putting into our mouths and giving our families the nutrients they need to maintain a healthy (not necessarily skinny) body.
Cooking at home brings families and friends together. Sadly, this tradition is being lost in many homes and substituted by fast food and take-out as the rule instead of the exception. After reading books like the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Skinny Bitch, Food Rules and Slow Food Nation, I was motivated to make some adjustments in the way I buy, cook and eat food. I am convinced eating less processed foods and more organic foods that come from plants, trees, the wild (as in fishing), and pastured animals that have not been exposed to antibiotics or pesticides, are the best alternatives. In the long run, its worth paying the premium prices these items usually have and I try to buy organic, local and seasonal whenever possible. This doesn’t mean I won’t have an Oreo once in a while. I have never liked extremes, so balance is the key.
That being said, my husband is a meat lover, so sometimes I make stews, beef tacos, “ropa vieja”, stuffed chicken breasts, lamb or pork chops, breaded veal scallopini, picadillo, etcetera for him and guests to enjoy. Last week my brother in law Mandy, our niece Camelia and her boyfriend Ricardo along with my mother in law Martha came over for dinner and this is what I made for them. They loved it as well as my recipe for cheese fondue (I will post in the near future) which is always a great hit. Keep in mind I make this recipe in a pressure cooker to make it faster. For all the meat lovers out there, here is my recipe for Veal Fricassée!
BTW, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MANOLO! WE LOVE YOU!
6 servings aprox.
2 1/4 pounds of veal cut into cubes aprox. (2″x2″ aprox.)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium size orange (juice and about 1 1/2 tsp of zest)
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup of white wine
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
1 1/2 tbsp recaíto (or 1 frozen “ice cube” of recaito, see recipe under seasonings) if you cannot find recaito in your grocery store, a bled of italian seasonings is a good substitute (1/2 tbsp)
2 bay leaves
2 carrots cut about 1″ thick
2 golden potatoes cut into large cubes
2 tomatoes cubed
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped cubanel pepper or green pepper
1 tsp oregano
4 oz tomato sauce
8 oz canned pimentos (pureed)
10 manzanilla olives
3 sprigs of thyme
1 cup of veal stock (or chicken stock)
1/2 cup of water
salt and pepper to taste
1. Season veal chunks with salt and orange juice and zest.
2. In a pressure cooker, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-hi heat. With a slotted spoon remove veal pieces from marinade and sauté for about 5 minutes. Reserve the marinade juices.
3. Add wine, onion, carrots, tomatoes, recaito and pepper. Sauté for another 5 minutes.
4. Continue by adding potatoes, pureed pimentos, tomato sauce, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, pepper, broth, marinade juices and water.
5. Cover pressure cooker and cook for about 45 minutes. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, make it in a heavy bottom medium-large pan or a dutch oven. It will take about 2 hours over med-lo heat for meat to become tender (covered). You will have to add more liquid or water so that the sauce doesn’t dry up)
6. Best when served with basic white rice (see recipe under rice), risotto alla milanese (see recipe under risotto) or brown rice.