Vitello e Peperoni Arrostiti con Fichi
Veal has always been a popular choice of meat in Italian dishes and a classic selection especially for many Northern Italian dishes. When I was growing up, veal was not reserved for special meals. Loretta and Attilio, my mother and father, served it in so many ways on any day of the week. Aside from the usual veal cutlets, they made stew with it, they stuffed veal chops, and breast of veal. As with other Italian families, we had a saute of veal and peppers often. There are as many recipes out there for veal and peppers as there are Italian families, I’m sure. Everyone seems to have their own special preparation handed down from the nonne (grandmothers). With our dish today, VEAL AND PEPPERS WITH FIGS, I have taken the classic sauteed version and made some changes.
The Standard: Usually, in most recipes, the veal cutlets or scallops are sauteed in olive oil with some peppers, sometimes with a little wine. Many like to add mushrooms.
Have Veal Issues? Then Cluck! This dish is also delicious using boned chicken breasts or chicken cutlets. The instructions are the same. Just make sure you slice the chicken breast pieces into thin scallops.
My Cheeky Addition: It is fig season now in most areas of the U.S. During the summer season, they arrive, for the most part, plump, juicy, sweet, and ready to eat. What could be better than making them part of the main event? Figs are really lovely with veal. They saute quickly and keep their flavor when cooked. In this case, they offer just a touch of sweetness that marries well with the savory quality of this recipe and smokiness of the roasted peppers.
My Peppery Preference: As with most vegetables, when possible, I always like to roast peppers. There is so much more flavor in a roasted “anything”! Peppers are no different and almost beg to be roasted. It is so easy to do this that it seems silly not to want to add this extra step. The peppers will also need very little cooking in the dish, as they are already tender from roasting. You simply brush your peppers with olive oil and pop them whole under the broiler, turning occasionally, for the “triple B” treatment: bruise, blacken, and blister. Then place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes to steam the skins off. Works like a charm! You can see the step by step easy process for roasting peppers by visiting a previous post: Sovana and the Mystery Dish. Since then , a subscriber, Stephanie, suggested cutting the peppers first and roasting them in pieces. This is a great suggestion which works very well.
How to serve: Even though this is definitely a meat dish and can be considered an entrée complete in itself, Veal and Peppers with Figs is actually a light choice for any time of day . Think of it as the “guy” who shows up for lunch in khakis, but put a tie on him, and he’s good for dinner! The “guy” cleans up nicely. This dish is definitely light enough for a lunch on the patio. However, add a green salad, a rustic bread like Focaccia, and a beautiful wine, a balmy evening, and you have yourself one fine dinner on the good china.
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VEAL AND PEPPERS WITH FIGS
Prep: about 40 minutes
Cook: about 20 minutes
About 8 Veal scallops or cutlets (boned chicken breasts may be substituted)
1/3 c. Flour seasoned with salt and pepper for dredging
4 Peppers Roasted, skins removed (See post:Sovana and the Mystery Dish for instructions on roasting) I like one of each color: red, yellow, orange, green.
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/8 lb Pancetta – chopped
3 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped finely
1 c. White Wine (substitute with water or broth if you do not choose to use wine)
1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 c. chicken broth
6-8 Fresh Figs – Sliced
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 tsp. fresh Lemon Zest
1/3 c. Chopped Fresh Parsley (preferably Italian Flat Leaf)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves ( I like to use Lemon Thyme from my garden)
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Roast and skin peppers, cut in pieces, set aside. Can be done a day or 2 ahead if desired.
Pound veal scallops with mallet to make thin. Also use the sharp end of the mallet to tenderize.
Dredge scallops in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and set aside.
Pour olive oil in pan – add chopped pancetta and cook until crisp. Remove pancetta and reserve.
Brown veal scallops in same oil on both sides – just a few minutes each side.( You can add another Tbsp. of oil if you think it is needed.) The scallops will brown quickly. Remove from pan.
Add garlic to the same oil and saute a couple of minutes.
Pour in white wine and add red pepper flakes. Cook a couple of minutes on medium high scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan.
Then pour in the chicken broth – again stirring up any bits left on the pan bottom.
Add veal scallops back to pan – reduce heat, cover and cook the veal for about 10 minutes or until tender. At any point, you can add a little more broth if sauce gets too thick.
Add the roasted peppers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
Add the figs.
Add the butter – stir in.
Immediately: add the Lemon Zest.
Follow with the pancetta, parsley, and thyme.
Stick a fork in it – your VEAL AND PEPPERS WITH FIGS is done!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography