Vitello Affogato –
I love the uncomplicated nature of Tuscan cooking. The Tuscans seems to have mastered the art of the simple rustic dish. DROWNED VEAL or VITELLO AFFOGATO is one such dish. This recipe hails from the town of Arezzo. Using simple but precise and perfect ingredients, as described here, a splendid meal fit for a dinner party can be created in just a few minutes. The authentic preparation calls for veal, as the Italians just love to cook and create with this tender meat. However, you can just as easily use boned chicken breasts and have the same tender result that everyone will enjoy.
A little history: There are many who credit the Tuscans, via Catherine de Medici, with teaching the French a thing or two in the kitchen. It is said that she introduced veal to the French among so many other culinary delights. But why did the French seem to surpass the Tuscans – for a while – in terms of the entrée or meat course when so many famous dishes were born in this beautiful region of Tuscany? Actually, it had nothing to do with cooking – but had everything to do with diverted attention. In the Renaissance period, the Italians experienced a little attention deficit in regard to their fabulous dishes in favor of the “arts” – that is, art in general, like sculpture and painting. Thus, we saw the rise of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and others of note. With patrons like the Medici family devoting themselves and their resources to these artists, less emphasis was given to the great dishes of this region. You get the idea – the French took the proverbial ball and ran with it, while the Italians were busy creating other things – or so the story goes. In any case, the Tuscans had already laid the groundwork for some of the best and most famous dishes that we enjoy to this day – like the veal dish we study on this post.
OK! Let’s address the elephant in the room – the “drowned” reference. No we are not suggesting that you drown a calf for this recipe. However, we can probably attribute the name of this dish to the method of cooking it – low – slow – and swimming in a gorgeous sauce. Actually, if you hunt, you will find that Italians like to “drown” a number of things in the kitchen and give them the moniker “affogato”. (not necessarily a bad thing from my perspective!)
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: About 1 hour
3 Fresh Garlic Cloves
3 Tbsp. Olive oil
8 Veal Cutlets (Can substitute Chicken Breast) – pound thin
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Tbsp. Porcini Powder (optional)
1/2 lb. Sliced Wild Mushrooms – any combination
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme leaves – chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Sage Leaves – chopped
1 14 oz. Can Chopped tomatoes
1 Tsp. Tomato Paste
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Lightly saute garlic cloves in oil for just a minute
Brown veal cutlets in this same oil for just a few minutes – just brown quickly on each side.
Add the wine and porcini powder if using it and cook at a strong simmer for another minute.
Add the mushrooms, thyme, sage, tomatoes and paste.
Stir well to combine – then cover and simmer on low for about 45 minutes. The sauce should thicken. Add a little water if too thick.
Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed
Remove the garlic cloves before serving.
Garnish with fresh sage leaves.
VITELLO AFFOGATO is an elegant and authentic Tuscan veal dish that is easy to make and can be ready in a matter of minutes. Serve it with mashed potatoes or polenta! Adhering to my “thing” for regional Italian concentration, I like a wine from the region of Tuscany with this dish – Rosso di Montalcino is my choice – not as big as its cousin, Brunello or as “oaky” – but really lovely with the veal and tomatoes.
PARLA COME MANGI!
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