Main course

Grilled Veal Rib Chop with Caponata

This is one of my go-to veal recipes that I whip out at least once a month for my clients. Veal is not cheap, but it’s so tender and full of flavor. I love cooking the veal chops on the grill on the highest possible heat, and getting those outer fatty edges nice ‘n crispy. The rub that I use adds such a beautiful flavor, and goes really well with the roasted eggplant and red pepper caponata that doubles as a vegetable side and a sauce.

Best of all, the caponata tastes even better the next day, over pasta or as I did, on a sourdough crostini with melted gruyere cheese… mmm!

Here we go…

Start by making the rub for the veal chop. You could even do this the day before and let it marinate overnight.

spice rub

Crush all the ingredients with your pestle (or you can blend it in the food processor) until it forms a rough paste, and drizzle in the olive oil. Slather it all over your veal chops.

Ok, 2 ingredients that I needed for this rub mysteriously disappeared from my grocery bags when I got home. I swear it wasn’t forgetfulness, I put them in my cart! I just must of not taken them out of my cart. Either way, you’ll need them for this rub. Anchovies and thyme.

Anchovies. I know that sounds strange in a rub. But trust me, they add a depth of flavor that you’ll appreciate, and yet won’t totally understand. Because whether you’re an anchovy hater or lover, it won’t resemble any anchovy flavor you’ve tasted in the past once the flame of the grill has hit it. Its subtle and yet adds something salty and delicious to a rub. Try it just once… for me… please…

veal chop slathered with rub

Now place it in a ziploc bag, or just wrap it back up in butcher paper and refrigerate.

On to the Caponata…

(Here is me making my lunch with the scrumptious leftover caponata)

start by preheat your oven at 425 degrees F

sliced eggplant

Slice one whole eggplant, then chop into roughly 1 inch or so cubes.

Now put the eggplant in a collander and toss with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. This will pull out some of the moisture in the eggplant and help it caramelize in the oven. You could also just spread it out in a single layer on a paper towel. Give it about 20 minutes, then use a paper towel to dab away any excess moisture on the eggplant.

Now roughly chop the rest of your vegetables: onion + red bell pepper. Try and keep them the same size as your eggplant. Slice the garlic in half and toss the whole vegetable medley with olive oil, another teaspoon kosher salt, and a 1/2 teaspon black pepper. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, dried are fine here too. I like to add two small pinches of red chili flakes to give it the tiniest bit of heat and some extra flavor.

Place it in a single layer on a rimmed metal baking sheet, and get it into that hot 425 degree oven (400 convection).


(after 20 min)
Roast for 20 minutes and then give it all a toss. Add the can of diced tomatoes, including all the juices. Roast for another 15-20 minutes, until most of the tomato juices have disappeared and the eggplant is nice and tender. The vegetables will cook faster if you’ve chopped them smaller.

Once its done, add capers and 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar. The vinegar will cook down right there on the hot baking sheet. You could also add lemon juice instead, if thats your preference. I like this step because the acidity of the vinegar tastes so wonderful with a meat dish like veal or even a NY steak. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

On to the Veal Chop!

When you’re ready to grill, make sure your veal chop has been out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes, so that it cooks more evenly. Over the highest flame, and on a grill that’s had at least 20 minutes to preheat, place your veal chops. Grill about 4-8 minutes per side (depending on your chop’s thickness), and make sure to turn the chop on its edges to get the fatty sides nice and charred. For my 1 3/4 inch extra thick chop it tool me a total of 15 minutes to get it to a nice medium rare. Use a digital instant read thermometer in the center of the your chop to check when its ready, roughly 120 degrees for medium rare. Remember it will keep cooking once its off the heat. Veal is a pretty lean meat and tastes dry above medium. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Oh, did I tell you yet that this whole recipe could also be used on a good ol’ traditional grilled steak? Well, it could…

Yummy tip: Once its off the grill and resting on a plate, put 1 tablespoon butter and a few drops of lemon juice on top of the steak/chop. As it melts, it will mix with the chop/steak’s smokey juices and create a delicious sauce. Try this with any steak or grilled meat!

On to this Caponata Crostini thing I made the next day…

Simple. Just top your favorite piece of bread (I used sourdough) with a heaping spoonful of the caponata, and slices of a good meltable cheese, like provolone or mozzarella (can you tell I have an Italian theme to uphold here…). Gruyere was just what I had in my fridge at the time, and it was also very nice. You could also top it with fresh ricotta or fresh buffalo mozzarella… for a cool summer version.

Preheat your broiler, and using an oven proof skillet, fry the toasts on medium heat in a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Be sure to wait until the olive oil is nice and hot before adding your toasts. After about 1-2 minutes, peek under the toast, the bread should be nice and brown on the edges, and golden in the center. Place directly under the broiler as close as you can get it. Watch it closely, until the cheese melts.

And now you’re a happy happy person, eating that cheesy, sweet, and somewhat healthy red pepper and eggplant goodness!

Veal Rib chop and Rub recipe:

for 2 thick 1 3/4 inch veal rib chops

1.5 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 large garlic clove
1 anchovy fillet
1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Kosher Salt

Instructions:

Combine first 8 ingredients and with a mortar and pestle, mash into a paste, add olive oil in a slow drizzle to incorporate. Likewise you can use a food processor. Slather all over veal chops and refrigerate 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Preheat your grill on high for at least 20 minutes or up to 40 minutes, or make sure your charcoal bbq is nice and hot, coals broken down and glowing. Season your chops with kosher salt.

Grill the Veal chops for about 7 minutes on each side, for an extra thick chop like the one I used in this recipe. Make sure to move them around every 2 minutes, so that the grill marks get imprinted all over the chops. If your chop is thinner, reduce the overall time. Also make sure to let the chops sear on their sides so that the fatty edges get nice and crispy. To know when its done, using an instant read digital thermometer is always your best bet. It should read between 120-125 degrees F at the center of your steak, for medium rare. Also, the center of the steak will always be cooked less than the edges, so rest assured even if the center of your steak is a low 120 degrees, the edges will be higher. I always take my steaks off a little under their desired temperature range because they continue to cook even after they’re off the grill. Let it rest on a plate for about 5 minutes. Top them off with a small slather of butter and a little squeeze of lemon juice, and presto you’ve got even more flavor!

Warning: veal is lean and tastes dry when cooked to well done. Ideally, its final target temperature is 125-135 degrees. Only eat this type of chop if you can handle the pink!

Caponata recipe

4 servings

1 large eggplant, roughly chopped 1 inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped 1 inch pieces
1 medium sweet onion, thickly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced in half
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp kosher salt, additional to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, or canned cherry tomatoes if you can find them
1/3 cup olive oil, more for drizzling if desired
1 1/2 Tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar, or lemon juice
1 Tbsp rinsed capers
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, more for garnish

Instructions:

Add the chopped eggplant to a colander with 1 Tbsp kosher salt. Let sit at least 20 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. Toss with bell pepper, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, a little more salt, black pepper and the olive oil. Spread in one layer on a metal baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, toss the vegetables and add the tomatoes including their juices, toss again. Roast for another 20 minutes until juices have evaporated and eggplant is tender. Time may be more or less depending on how large or small you chopped the eggplant. Once out of the oven, immediately add the vinegar or lemon juice and capers. Add the fresh basil and toss before serving.

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Main course

Ok here I go… my family’s favorite comfort food, Bolognese.

I’ve got some picky eaters at home.

I used to think, when I was pregnant with my son, that I would raise these incredibly sophisticated eaters.  I assumed that mine would be the child you saw at the sushi bar wielding chopsticks and popping california rolls in his mouth like it was candy.  Oh the fantasies I had!

Well I’m definitely humbled in that area now.   You won’t see  me judging another mother who feeds her children cereal for dinner, and pbj at lunch (yes, I’m guilty… arrest me).

My pride in my home cooking abilities are constantly checked by my kids refusal to eat many of my favorite meals.

But this dish is one of the few exceptions to my grilled cheese and chicken nugget dinner rut.  They’ll eat it, and LOVE it, feeding my ego with comments like “mommy, ur the best cooker ever!”  They’ll even eat the small bits of carrot, celery, and tomatoes that they so painstakingly point out, because it just melts in their little mouths along with that juicy, meaty sauce.

Try it!  I add cinnamon because it just compliments the flavors of the tomatoes and the meat so well.  It’s really subtle, you can taste it, but most people can’t guess what it is!

Try starting this dish in the morning, and let it simmer on your stove through the afternoon (you can use a slow cooker too).  Your family will be drooling as it smells up your house with mouthwatering deliciousness!

tips: get all your ingredients ready first.  Chop your vegetables, measure your liquids, etc.  It will make the actual cooking part flow a lot smoother.

Rigatoni Bolognese 6 servings

2 pieces thick cut bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed or finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1.5 lbs ground beef, 85% lean (or you can split this up and do different variations – veal+pork+beef, or even turkey for a low fat version)
1/4 can tomato paste
1/3-1/2 bottle dry white wine, plus a few tablespoons to adjust the seasoning at the end
1 1/2  28oz. cans diced San Marzano tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon (yes, I said cinnamon!)
1 lb bag rigatoni or other pasta
salt and pepper

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In the future, I’ll be posting pics of the process, but today you’ll have to use your imagination 🙂

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You’ll need a large pot to start.

Chop your onion, celery , carrots and bacon.  Crush you’re garlic, or if you’re like me and use you’re microplane to grate everything, go ahead and grate!

Heat your pot on a medium-high flame for a minute or two and then add the bacon.  It should be nice and crisp in about 4-5 minutes. Remove bacon, leaving the fat in the pot.

Turn your heat down to medium and add your carrots, onion, and celery.  Saute for 10 minutes, giving it a stir every minute or so, so that the veggies don’t brown but just turn translucent.

Add garlic, saute for a minute or so.  You never want to saute your garlic for more than a minute or so or it will burn and turn bitter.  When you lean your head over the pan and can smell its aroma, done.

Now your house is going to smell Ah-may-zing!  Bacon+Onion+Garlic are the trinity of make-you-hungry smells!

Add the ground beef, cook and stir until browned.

Now you can actually pour out some of the fat from the meat if you like.  Using the lid of your pot to hold back the meat and other ingredients, just tilt the pot over the sink or bowl, and pour the excess fat out.

Next over a medium flame, add the tomato paste and cinnamon, and give it a quick stir to incorporate, add the diced canned tomato, bay leaf, white wine, beef broth, and whole milk.

Bring it all to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low.  Let it simmer uncovered for 3-4 hours. Give it a stir every half hour or so, so that the bottom doesn’t burn. You can use a spoon to skim off any excess fat that comes to the surface.  This isn’t a must, but it does make this dish healthy, and it doesn’t rob from any of the flavor.

After about 3 hours, fill a large pot with water , about 2/3s the way up. Add a few tablespoons salt. This will be for the pasta.  It’s always nice to have  a pot of boiling water just ready and waiting when you need it.

Once its nice and thick, adjust the seasoning.  Does it need a little kick? Add a little white wine, or maybe some more salt and pepper.  If it’s too acidic, try adding 1/2 cup or more of milk and let it simmer another 20 minutes to reduce.

I love the subtle cinnamon, I hope you do too.  It just gives it this hidden sweetness, and works so well in this dish!  If you can’t taste it, add a another pinch and stir.

Enjoy!

~Christina

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