Cooking seasonally makes sense for most of the contiguous U.S. In winter, it’s soups and casseroles, meaty roasts and indulgent desserts. Spring gives way to lighter, pan-seared specialties and the first precious stalks of asparagus, ramps and other harbingers of warmer weather to come. Summer is all about grilling, salads and copious amounts of uber-sweet, at-their-peak fruit. And fall, beckons with braises, stews and every form of pumpkin known to man. Yes, cooking for the seasons is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, unless you live here.
It’s true because as I write this it’s 88° outside. Nowhere close to being seasonal fall weather. That’s what you get for living in the tropics. I read in the newspaper that this area shouldn’t expect to see temperature readings below 60° until mid-November. With forecasts like that, it’s a wonder we ever have any hearty, stick-to-your-rib meals down here.
If I truly cooked according to South Florida’s seasons — this would be nothing but a grilling and salad site, with two or three soups thrown in for those days when we have to wear long sleeves and our winter sandals (which cover slightly more of the foot than the summer variety – LOL!)
Anyway, I feel no such compunction to wait for the thermometer to tell me what I can and can’t eat. So here goes – simply mouthwatering, wine-braised veal shanks cooked with onions, carrots, mushrooms and about 2 whole heads of garlic! I know! YUM!
My Grandad was not a fan of garlic — rather he despised it and wouldn’t touch any food containing it — which was a challenge for my Mom who used fresh garlic in everything except her breakfast cereal! But the garlic in this recipe is blanched before adding it to the braise, which takes all the sharpness away and yields a sweet, nutty flavor that will make you and your diners hunt for every last clove in the pot!
For those of you suffering the heat and humidity of a South Florida October, turn down your A/C and make this ode-to-fall. The rest of you — can just enjoy it!
- 2 heads garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced vertically.
- 3 carrots, peeled
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 pounds veal shanks (about 4 shanks)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 cup veal or beef broth
- 1 cup dry red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Preheat the oven to 300°.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Break apart the garlic cloves and add them to the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain the garlic and peel the cloves, discarding the skins.
- Set the garlic aside.
- Tie the herbs in a tight bundle using kitchen string and set aside.
- Pat the veal dry and sprinkle both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Carefully add the veal and brown for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning with a pair of kitchen tongs. Transfer the veal to a large plate or platter.
- Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the dutch oven and saute the carrots, celery and onion for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Transfer the vegetables to a small bowl. If the pan is dry, add a little more olive oil to it and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 3-4 minutes, or until it starts to take on some color. Transfer the garlic to the bowl of vegetables. Add the mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle with a 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir the mushrooms and fit the lid on tightly. Cook mushrooms for 1-2 minutes until they give up their liquid and begin to brown. Transfer the mushrooms to the vegetable bowl.
- Add the wine to the pot and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen the fond. Simmer for one minute, then add the broth and tomato paste, stirring until the tomato paste is evenly incorporated into the sauce.
- Add the vegetables and the herbs to the pot. Transfer the veal shanks to the pot, arranging them snugly into the broth with the vegetables. Add any accumulated juices from the plate. Cover and bring just to the boiling point, then transfer the covered pot to the oven and braise for 2 hours or until the shanks are tender.