One of the best parts of my chosen career is the way that old friends keep arriving back in Canberra and adding to my circle of friends, enhancing the flavour of the local social stock like herbs thrown into a bubbling soup pot. The latest arrivals to add zest to the Canberra scene are the Duckworths, who are rejoining the group after three years in Cambodia. In honour of their return, I decided to have a welcome back dinner - something warming and delicious given the newly-chilly autumnal weather.
I had a deboned, rolled shoulder of veal in the freezer, care of my wonderful mother, and decided a slow pot roast was the way to go. It's a fabulous cut of veal and is traditionally slow roasted in wine by Italian families the world over. This was a bit of a last minute decision, so it was lucky that in my travels to the Farmers' Market that morning I had purchased a bunch of small leeks, fresh herbs and button mushrooms, all of which complemented the veal and ended up as the base of the pot roast.
We were also very lucky to have the delightful Ms C at dinner, who whipped up a delicious dessert of meringue nests, whipped cream and blueberries, all drizzled with home-made lemon curd (incidentally, she also gave me the "goddess of hunting" spice mix used in the pot roast from her recent trip to Melbourne). It was a lovely night, with the food complementing the excellent company.
Slow pot-roast veal with leeks and white wine
- 1 kg deboned & rolled veal shoulder
- 6 button mushrooms (Swiss Brown mushrooms would also be excellent)
- 4 medium-sized leeks, finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed with the back of a knife and then diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 bottle full-bodied dry white wine (750 ml)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup stock (vegetable, veal, beef or chicken, I am not fussy)
- 1 tablespoon "goddess of hunting" spice mix*
- 1 tablespoon porcini powder*
* These ingredients can be exchanged for the following:
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground juniper berries
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 5 dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 2 cups boiling water (use the water - strained - instead of the stock as well)
Heat your olive oil in a cast iron casserole pot over a medium-high heat, then brown the veal shoulder on all sides. Remove and set aside. Add the butter and, when melted, soften your leeks (with a pinch of salt), but do not let brown. Add the garlic, chopped sage and rosemary, porcini powder and spice mix (or equivalent ground spices if these ingredients are not available). Stir until combined and aromatic. Add in the button mushrooms (and the reconstituted porcinis, if you are not able to find porcini powder).
Pour in 1 cup of white wine, stir and scrape off the yummy brown bits at the bottom of the casserole dish left from the browning of the meat. This process is called deglazing and your wine should bubble and sizzle. Pop the browned veal on top when the sizzling ceases, then add the rest of the wine and around 1 cup stock. This shouldn't completely cover the veal, but should come up to the 2/3 high mark. When the liquid has heated up, reduce the heat so the broth is at a slow simmer. Place the lid back on the casserole dish and leave for approximately 2 hours, checking every half hour or so, and turning the meat in the pot so the veal stays moist as it cooks.
At the 2 hour mark, remove the veal from the pot and rest in another dish, covered in foil. Meanwhile, increase the heat in the pot so that the remaining liquid reduces down by half - this should take about 5-10 minutes. Finally, add in salt to taste and the thickened cream. Stir, taste, and add in more salt and porcini powder if it's tasting a little bland. I also added a small amount of truffle mash, which you can get for a bit of an outrageous sum from the Essential Ingredient. Well worth it, if you ask me, but the sauce will still taste amazing, even without it.
Now, carve your veal into slices. The veal was so amazingly tender that it almost shredded apart as I cut it. I placed the pieces on a large serving dish and then ladled the sauce over the top. I served it with mashed Dutch Cream potatoes and steamed butter beans fresh from the market. It was truly one of the most delicious meals I have ever cooked (even if I do say so myself). Not only that, it was super duper easy, and I was able to sit back and have a drink with my friends, rather than phaffing about in the kitchen.
One rolled shoulder of veal. One bottle of wine. Leeks and onions braised in butter, garlic and herbs. Two hours. An excellent investment.