BRAISED VEAL AND RISOTTO
As the capital of Lombardia, Milan is considered the fashion leader of Italy, and one of the country’s biggest industrial centers and, as such, not necessarily one of the more evocative Italian cities. Most visitors to Lombardia gravitate to the shores of Lake Como, to the north of Milan or Lake Garda, to the east, and while these "great lakes" offer beautiful vistas, good restaurants and luxury hotels, Chef Mario Batali understands that there is so much more to the region than what can be seen in those areas.
In the southeastern corner of Lombardia, near its borders with both Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, the city of Mantova remains a relatively unexplored gastronomic gem. Just west of Brescia, the wine region of Franciacorta—famous for its Champagne-method sparkling wines—is an increasingly international destination, equipped with a spate of stylish hotels and even a golf course in the hills surrounding Lake Iseo. And in the far north, on Italy’s border with Switzerland, the Alpine heights of the Valtellina zone take you to another country altogether.
This pro rendition of the renowned braised veal shanks served with saffron-drenched "risotto Milanese" is popular in this culinary wonderland. Chef Batali suggests carefully and comprehensively browning the pieces to a deep golden brown first. This not only makes for a delicious, full-flavored piece of meat, but also contributes to a rich and complex sauce. Contrary to popular belief, you can overcook veal shanks and it is important that they do not dry out, so pay careful attention to the final half hour of cooking time. The meat must still offer a bit of resistance when poked with a fork, but fall away from the bone with a little firm pressure. As with all great dishes, the more often you prepare them, the better your final results will become.
Makes 4 Servings | Regional Origin: Lombardia | Book: Simple Italian Food (Clarkson Potter 1998)
• 4 Veal Shanks, cut 3 inches thick (about 3 ½ to 4 pounds)
• Salt and Pepper
• 6 tablespoons extra-virgin Olive Oil
• 1 medium Carrot, chopped into ¼-inch-thick coins
• 1 small Spanish Onion, chopped into ½-inch dice
• 1 Celery stalk, chopped into ¼-inch slices
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Thyme leaves
• 2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
• 2 cups Chicken Stock
• 2 cups dry White Wine
• 1 recipe Risotto Milanese (recipe below)
• 1 recipe Gremolata (recipe below)
Basic Tomato Sauce
• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 Spanish onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
• 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
• ½ medium carrot, finely shredded
• Two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook until the carrot is quite soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, with their juice, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until as thick as hot cereal, about 30 minutes. Season with salt. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for 6 months.
• ¼ cup finely chopped Italian Parsley
• ¼ cup Pine Nuts, toasted under the broiler until dark brown
• Zest of 1 Lemon
Mix the parsley, pine nuts, and lemon zest loosely in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to serve. Makes ½ cup
• ¼ cup extra-virgin Olive Oil
• 1 medium Onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
• 1 teaspoon Saffron threads
• 2 cups Arborio Rice
• 4 cups Chicken Stock, hot
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted Butter
• ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a 12- to 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the saffron and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add a 4- to 6-ounce ladle of the stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Continue adding stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese until well mixed.
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