Dig into tender chunks of veal smothered in a rich tomato sauce with peppers in this hearty Italian classic.
When I first decided to write a food blog, for some reason I thought I would be writing solely about food. But it didn’t take long (pretty sure it was my first post) before I realized that it would be impossible for me to share my favorite dishes without sharing the background or my personal connection to the recipe with you. My favorite dishes aren’t only my favorites because they taste good (although c’mon, that’s a pretty big deal), but because the sight, smell, and taste of them resonate in my soul.
It’s of course not surprising that food is far more than simply sustenance to me. To me food represents comfort, celebration, love, connection and solace. And today’s recipe for veal and peppers is truly a mixture of all of those.
Veal and peppers was my dad’s favorite dish. Whoa, that sentence hit me hard, because writing the word was when referencing my dad is still very fresh and not quite real. My dad passed away about a week and a half ago and after the immediate flurry of activity, arrangements, services, visits, and phone calls; the reality of his passing is just now beginning to sink in.
He was (and I’m quoting my mom) a force. He was tough, opinionated, strong in body and in spirit. He worked harder at 80 than most people do at 40 and his commitment to doing things “the right way” will be forever ingrained in my psyche. Although we didn’t speak everyday, he is and will always be, a part of my daily life. From filling a glass full of ice when making a drink (he hated skimpy cubes), to obsessively checking the forecast (as a lifelong contractor the weather was friend or foe), to working tirelessly on a task (his with tile and plaster, mine with flour and butter), to using some pretty salty expletives (especially when driving or watching the news), it’s in these daily tasks that I’m reminded of him and just how alike we are.
He was a pretty passionate guy and as much as certain things drove him crazy (i.e. our current political environment), he also took immense pleasure from some of the simplest things in life. A scoop of ice cream or an icy glass of water on a hot day, a seafood stew teeming with shellfish, or a perfectly tender (not mushy or rubbery) meatball were sheer bliss. He passed down his love of music (his to old blue eyes, mine to alt rock), his love of anything lemon, and thankfully his infamous recipe for sauce and meatballs. He loved to go out to eat and if veal and peppers was on the menu at a favorite Italian restaurant, there was no question what he would order.
My mom shared that he had veal and peppers on his mind the day he passed and he had suggested they go out for dinner soon so he could get his fix. Turns out the universe had other plans. But what the universe didn’t quite understand about Gino Roma was when he made up his mind about something, it was going to happen. So veal and peppers are on the menu tonight at my house and we’ll set an extra place for my dad. We’ll fill our glasses full of ice, turn on a little Sinatra, and pile our plates full of tender veal and rich tomato sauce. We’ll celebrate his life and legacy and take joy in knowing that while he may be gone in body, he will forever live on in our hearts and spirit. And if there is a heaven, I’m pretty sure I know what they’re serving for dinner tonight.
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 lbs boneless veal, cubed
- 1/4 all purpose flour
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
- 26 oz chopped tomatoes (I like Pomi)
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 3 bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced (green or a combo of green/red)
- Splash of red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and pepper
- *cooked rice or pasta for serving
Heat the olive oil over med/high heat in a dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot. Season the veal cubes with kosher salt and pepper and toss with the flour until well-coated.
Brown the veal in two batches, adding a little more oil if needed. Remove the veal to a plate and add the onion and garlic to the dutch oven.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion and garlic until softened and golden. Add the white wine to the pan and deglaze. Continue to cook, stirring, until the wine is almost completely absorbed.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 mins. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, sugar, oregano, parsley and red pepper flakes. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper and reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
After an hour, add the peppers and a splash of red wine vinegar. Adjust the seasoning, cover, and continue to cook for an additional hour. The veal should be fork tender and the peppers very soft.
Serve over rice or pasta if desired.