Builder Hank Akers puts on his chef’s hat to share his favorite French bistro inspired recipe:
Veau à la Provençale
Simple and soul satisfying at the same time, this ragoût of veal with tomatoes, green olives, and sage served atop fregola pasta and accompanied by a nice Provençal rosé will magically transport you to your favorite French bistro faster than you can say voilà.
I hope you enjoy my latest culinary creation as much as I do.
2 lbs. well-trimmed Veal stew meat cut into pieces (approx. 1”x 2” x ½”)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
1 Yellow Onion coarsely chopped
2 Garlic cloves peeled and smashed with the blade of a heavy knife
1 can (28 oz.) good Italian Plum Tomatoes (I especially like La Valle) drained, lightly
squeezed to de-seed, and coarsely chopped
1 handful of coarsely chopped Italian Parsley, leaves only
2 sprigs fresh Sage, left whole
1 cup dry White Wine
1 qt. Chicken Stock (preferably homemade, but good store bought like Pacific brand ok)
2 handsful of Green Olives (not cocktail olives but Green Picholine Olives imported from the south of France)
2 tbs. unsalted Butter
Italian Parsley, coarsely chopped, for garnish
1 kilo pkg Fregola pasta (bead-shaped, toasted Sardinian style pasta)
Heat a large, heavy casserole (one that is lidded and works both in the oven and stovetop like Le Creuset) over medium heat till hot, then add olive oil to nicely coat the bottom.
When olive oil is hot but not smoking turn heat to high and add veal. Season with salt and pepper. Move veal pieces around occasionally with a wooden spoon and cook until most of the liquid the veal has exuded has evaporated.
Add another tablespoon or two of olive oil and then add the yellow onion. Stir occasionally and add garlic after a couple of minutes. Cook until onion is translucent, still on high heat.
Add the tomatoes, parsley, and sage. Cook until liquid is partially reduced. Add a bit of salt and pepper.
Add the white wine and cook, still over high heat, till the liquid is partially reduced.
Add the chicken stock and a bit of salt and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and place in a 250 degree oven for an hour or so. Add the green olives and continue cooking covered in the oven for another hour or so.
At this point you will want to monitor the amount of liquid remaining in the casserole. It will need to cook longer (perhaps another hour or so) and with the lid slightly ajar. You will want to reduce the liquid to the point that you have a nice, rich sauce while retaining enough volume to adequately serve atop the pasta. If you slightly over-reduce you can add back a bit of water.
At this point taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. The casserole can be held with the lid on in a 175 degree oven until you are ready to serve. Before serving, add the butter and stir until incorporated.
When ready to serve, cook the fregola in a large pot in salted water until al dente (probable 14 minutes or so). Drain and return to cooking pot. Add three or so tablespoons of olive oil and stir to distribute evenly.
Spoon servings of the fregola into pasta bowls, then spoon the veal ragoût on top. Sprinkle generously with coarsely chopped Italian parsley.
This goes very nicely with a Provençal rosé, but would work well with a not-too-big red wine as well. Bon Appétit !