If you’re in the mood for a hearty and flavorful dish, look no further than Corsican Veal Stew. This mouthwatering recipe has more of an Italian-Mediterranean flair than the traditional French creamy veal stew. Picture tender pieces of veal slowly cooked with tomatoes, wine, garlic, onions, and red bell peppers. This stew is not only delicious when served fresh, but it also tastes even better when reheated the next day and served with pasta. Plus, if you can’t find veal, you can easily substitute it with chicken or beef.
A Glimpse of Corsica – The Island of Beauty
Let me share a little secret with you. My husband hails from the stunning island of Corsica, and we often find ourselves at his family’s house in a charming Corsican mountain village. The journey there, winding for about 20 kilometers from Corte, can be quite an adventure. In the winter, the weather can be mild or even colder than in the North of France – sometimes as chilly as Scotland!
During our Christmas visits, we take a leisurely drive down the meandering road to Corte. Our mission? To gather supplies for the all-important reveillon dinner. We stock up on fresh oysters, baguettes, and our guilty pleasure: Bûches de Noël from Grimaldi’s pâtisserie, which keep the entire family content for a couple of days.
A Mediterranean Delight: Beef, Veal, or Chicken
Imagine this scene: bells ringing, an elderly Corsican woman dressed in black scurrying into her house, and a captivating fragrance wafting from the front door. She’s checking on her beef stew, known as a Stufadu in Corsica. Now, while the popular Corsican Stufadu is traditionally made with beef and dried porcini mushrooms, we’re going to dive into the realm of veal.
Veal, obtained from young calves, is widely beloved in Europe, especially in France, Corsica, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Germany, and Austria. If veal isn’t readily available where you live, don’t worry! You can easily create this delectable stew with either beef or chicken.
Not Your Typical French Creamy Veal Stew
Let’s get one thing straight: this Corsican veal stew is a far cry from the creamy veal stew known as Blanquette de Veau in French cuisine. Unlike its milky counterpart, this recipe involves browning the meat and infusing it with a Mediterranean spirit. Think tomatoes, garlic, and the island’s prized wild herbs, lovingly referred to as “les herbes du maquis.” These herbs not only add a unique fragrance but are also an essential component of this dish. Without them, it simply wouldn’t be the same.
In fact, this veal stew can be compared to a monkfish stew called Lotte à l’Armoricaine, but with veal taking center stage instead of the meaty fish. Bell peppers and robust herbs complete the flavor profile, resulting in a tantalizing medley of taste and texture.
The Tender Veal Stew Revelation
Here’s a secret tip I learned from our local butcher many years ago: veal must be treated tenderly. To achieve tender, succulent results, we need to handle it with care. After browning the meat on all sides, the secret lies in lightly browning it until it turns golden and then removing it from the pot. This allows the onions, garlic, and bell peppers to simmer gently in the meat’s juices, with a touch of olive oil. Only when we’re ready to add the wine and tomatoes do we reintroduce the veal to the pot.
And here’s another piece of advice: cutting the meat into small chunks rather than large ones ensures tenderization. Let these delectable ingredients mingle together in the pot for at least an hour and a half, or even longer if you desire. With this much sauce, you can’t possibly overcook it.
Corsican Veal Stew, Napoleon Style
Now, let’s talk about where I discovered this gem. I stumbled upon this Corsican Veal Stew with Peppers in Rolli Lucarotti’s book, “Recipes from Corsica.” It evokes the spirit of Veau Marengo, a dish initially prepared for Napoleon himself (originally with chicken). However, unlike traditional Veau Marengo, this recipe is a slightly simplified version. We’ve omitted the pickling onions, carrots, and mushrooms that are commonly found in Blanquette. There’s also no need to add egg yolks at the end of cooking.
But fear not, I’ve made a few tweaks to the recipe. I’ve increased the amount of wine to ensure the stew doesn’t dry out during the cooking process. Instead of using green peppers, I opted for vibrant red and yellow ones. And because I believe the world can never have too much garlic, I’ve added a bit more. For a slight thickening effect, I’ve introduced a hint of flour to the mix. If you prefer a gluten-free option, feel free to use cornflour or cornstarch instead.
It’s worth noting that the quality of the veal makes a significant difference in this dish. If possible, seek out Corsican veal, as the calves graze on the maquis, a landscape abundant with wild, aromatic herbs. The resulting flavor is unparalleled. To replicate these unique flavors, don’t be shy with the herbs and consider adding a touch of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika if you enjoy a little kick.
Let me share one final secret with you. Reheating this stew the next day allows the flavors to meld together, creating an even more phenomenal dining experience.
Versatile Leftovers: Veal Stew as a Pasta Sauce
Calling all pasta lovers! This Corsican Veal Stew is a perfect companion for penne. The best part? It freezes beautifully, so I always prepare double portions. With frozen leftovers at the ready, you can effortlessly whip up a delicious home-cooked dinner on a busy weekday, leaving everyone convinced you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen. It’s all about that extra time to indulge in your passion for baking!
So, get ready to embark on a culinary adventure with Corsican Veal Stew. Your taste buds will thank you!