The legend goes: there was once an old man who was so poor he could not buy enough food to make a family dinner, so he decided to collect the old clothes (ropa vieja), fill them with his love and cook. When he cooked the clothes, his love has turned them into a wonderful stew.
The following are steps on how to turn your meat leftovers into Ropa Vieja. Shred the cooked meat with two forks; sautee one chopped green pepper, with onions and garlic; add the meat, tomato coulis, wine, dash of cumin and freshly ground pepper.
Cheeses like camembert and raclette make a good pick for these canapés, but fresh white stilton with apricots can add an interesting twist, especially with some Dijon. If you decide to use bruschetta in your appetizers, drain it well to ensure the base of canapés will not get soggy. The Stoneleigh sauvignon blanc, Marlborough from New Zealand (or similar) pairs really well with seafood, sushi and fish, but in this case it brings the best out of the cold veal mixed with some tangy dashes!
Adapted from Milk Fed Veal Quebec Canapés.
This roast is definitely a part of the cooking tradition known as la cuisine ”grand-mère” (grandmother’s cooking) for its simple ingredients and long cooking to ensure tender and flavorful meat. Today I am featuring it with polenta (the recipe will follow) turning it Italian way. However, mashed/new potatoes, cauliflower or just sautéed greens make excellent side dishes to this roast as well.
Browning the roast before you braise it is important to seal the juices in the meat and thus add more flavor to the dish. Even though that means another dirty pan the difference in taste is well worth the cleanup. The slow cooking part should not discourage you from making this dish, as the steps are easy and ingredients are no-brainer for even a beginner cook. Not only you will enjoy it, but will have plenty of time to make a great side course or salad and do many other little chores while your place will be filled with the divine smell of roasting veal and porcini.
For years I have been cooking different variations of this soup (which I used to call “Soup With Meatballs”) using my grandma`s notes without actually knowing it was “Minestra Maritata”. Until a trip to an Italian wedding has opened my eyes to the official name of this soup, which translates to “married soup” so many assume this is a traditional Italian dish for weddings. In reality, the name of this soup stems from an excellent marriage of its ingredients: a mixture of meat, heavy broth, green vegetables, and pasta. This soup is hearty and filling and with this added protein it becomes a complete and balanced one-course meal.
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground veal (or chicken, or turkey, or sausage meat without casings)
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder (or two minced garlic cloves)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus extra for serving
- 3 tablespoons milk (or water)
- 1 large egg
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
For the soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup minced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots)
- 3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks)
- 10 cups homemade chicken stock (or commercial)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (or 3 table spoons of apple cider vinegar)
- 1 cup small pasta such as orzo or stars
- 12 ounces baby spinach, washed, trimmed and chopped (or 1 small pack of frozen spinach wilted)
- pinch of chilli flakes, oregano and thyme (to your taste)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the meatballs, mix the ground veal, bread crumbs, garlic & onion powder, parsley, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil over low heat in a soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine (or apple cider vinegar) and bring to a boil. Add meatballs and pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted.
Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle each serving with Parmesan if desired.