What is it about slow cooked meals that is so synonymous with comfort? I love a dish that simmers away, slowly releasing its layers of flavours whilst wafting amazing aromas throughout the house to remind you what is in store later. This veal and porcini sauce recipe calls for not one but two bottles of wine to be opened. So, if you feel compelled to undertake some quality control whilst you are cooking, it would be perfectly understandable.
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small brown onion finely diced
1 clove garlic crushed
20 gr dried porcini mushrooms
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup dry white wine
1 kg osso bucco veal pieces
2 stalks basil (leaves removed – you can use these later for garnish)
2 stalks sage (leaves removed)
2 star anise
¼ tsp freshly ground mace
Really good Italian pasta – I like penne or large maccheroni
The very first thing to do is soak your porcini mushrooms. Put them in a small bowl with just under a cup of boiling water. You want them well covered but not swimming in water. They need to soak until they are soft – the longer the better. If you can leave them for an hour that is ideal. Next, pre-heat your oven to 160 C
Lightly dust the osso bucco pieces with seasoned flour and brown in a large heavy casserole dish. Remove the veal and set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic over a medium heat for five minutes or until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Remove the porcini mushrooms from the soaking liquid, but keep it for later. Add them to the dish along with the tomato paste and cook, stirring the mixture constantly, until the tomato paste begins to caramelise (about 3 minutes). Add both the red and white wine and mix well bringing the mixture to a simmer. Return the veal pieces to the dish then add the herbs, the star anise and grate the mace directly into the pot. I find it easier and less messy this way but it means you have to guess the quantity. Add some of the reserved porcini liquid – this is now a very tasty aromatic stock and cook covered in the oven for 3 hours.
Allow to cool slightly and remove the veal pieces from the casserole dish. The meat should be falling off the bone and very tender. If it isn’t, pop it back in the oven. When ready, using two forks, roughly shred the meat and return to mixture.
Heat through on stovetop over low heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and combine with al dente penne scattered with fresh parmesan. Garnish with basil leaves.
This dish can also be adapted a couple of ways. For a less intense flavour add some tomato passata (this can also be done to stretch the dish if you end up with more mouths to feed than anticipated). I have also used the sauce to make a filling for tortellini. After shredding the meat put it and the porcini mushrooms in a food processor and blend adding a small amount of the left over liquid at a time until you get a paste like consistency. The remainder of the cooking liquid can be reserved and used as the sauce for the tortellini.
A dish such as this needs a gutsy, spicy Italian red.