Given a choice, I would much rather stay at home on a weekend night and cook dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I love dining in restaurants too. But there are times when it’s soothing to create a meal in your own kitchen, snuggle up in front of the television and pop in a movie. Since Mediterranean food scores high on my roster, this roasted veal chop recipe fits the bill, and isn’t difficult to prepare. What is amazing is that you’ll end up with a restaurant-quality meal that you can eat in your pajamas! Let me know what you think.
What you’ll need: When cooking at home, it’s important to have equipment that will help you create the best meal you can. You don’t have to go overboard and buy everything you see at Williams-Sonoma (although wouldn’t that be fun!) Ease into it, and invest in one special cooking implement when you can. To make a meal like this work, you’ll need a heavy skillet. Coated cast iron is best, and I have found I can’t go wrong with the Le Creuset sauté pan. It’s worth the investment, and I use it several times a week. You’ll actually save money because you’ll spend less going out.
For Veal and Vegetables:
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 T fresh thyme leaves (strip leaves from the stalk in the opposite direction they grow, and discard the stalk)
1/2 T kosher salt
1/2 T black pepper
(2)–1 3/4 inch thick veal rib chops, with fat from end of the bone trimmed (you may substitute pork chops if you wish)
9 small shallots, peeled and halved
2 T balsamic vinegar
6 oz package grape tomatoes
2 tsp capers, drained, plus 1 tsp caper brine reserved from jar
2 cups loosely-packed arugula
Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice in small bowl. Mix thyme, salt and pepper in another small bowl. Rub thyme mixture over both sides of veal chops and place in glass baking dish. Pour olive oil mixture over chops and let sit for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine shallots, vinegar and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in small roasting pan, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss again. Roast until shallots are browned and tender, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes to shallots and roast until tomatoes are softened and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes more. Remove pan from oven. Add capers and reserved brine. Stir to blend.
While vegetables are roasting, heat large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Remove veal chops from marinade and place in skillet, cooking about 3 minutes per side, until browned. Transfer marinade to small saucepan.
Place skillet in oven and roast veal until done, about 10 minutes for medium, or a minimum internal temperature of 145°F, measured with a food thermometer. Carefully remove from oven and let rest to allow juices to collect.
Bring reserved marinade to boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Spoon polenta onto plates, topping each with a veal chop. Divide shallot tomato mixture and arugula between plates and drizzle with oil-lemon marinade.
Polenta is amazingly simple to make. If you don’t believe me, buy Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits, also known as Polenta. See? I’m not making this up. Corn grits are as close to down home food as you can get, so you know they can’t be all that tough to make! Just ignore the fancy name.
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits (you can use any brand you like, but Bob seems so friendly and helpful)
3 T butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Bring water and salt to boil in large deep pan (not the sauté pan; save that one for the veal!) Using a long-handled wooden spoon, slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent mixture from sticking, until thick, about 25-30 minutes. Add butter, continuing to stir. Add cheese right before serving.
For leftovers, press polenta into tupperware to mold. Remove and cut into sections; wrap in tin foil. Sections may be rewarmed for use with other meals, grilled or frozen for later use. If you freeze, place tin foil packages in freezer-safe bags.
A Pinot Noir or Syrah is a great accompaniment for this meal.