I was walking through the grocery the other day and I spied some veal shoulder roasts for sale. I am not usually a fan of buying meats from big box supermarkets (we are lucky to have a sweet local butcher), but these looked reasonably fresh and were decently priced.
I was kind of perplexed about what I wanted to do with this beautiful hunk of baby cow. It is a fairly fatty piece of meat with lots of connective tissue and what not. A lot of people would tie it and braise it for a few hours at low temp and then serve it sliced. I personally have too many memories of dishes like this from Army chow halls the world over. It is common to get a fatty, gray slice of meat from god knows what kind of animal that has been braised in monkey urine and served with bland mashed potatoes. I decided to make a kind of twice cooked veal hoopty that I thought would come out good. First I browned the meat in my wee casserole.
I intended to first braise this in some home made stock, fresh onion, garlic, and carrot, but I got too lazy to go shopping. I had some canned chicken stock, canned tomatoes, and.....
Thats right folks, Goya Sofrito. I have always been a fan of the Goya family of products. They are cheap and tasty, and if they stopped putting MSG in everything I would use them all of the time. I randomly get pissed that they don't sell frozen Goya Papusas in the local P-Chops. Sofrito brings me back to my younger days of cooking when one was too drunk, hungover, poor...etc... to purchase and chop fresh vegetables. This is definitely a weird accompaniment to veal but hey, I will try anything once. I threw a few spoons of sofrito, a cup of stock, and a can of whole stewed tomatoes (crushed by hand in the sink, watch the squirty ones) into the casserole with the veal and gave it a good shake. I brought all of this to a boil and then threw in a 325 degree oven for around 3 hours. It looked and smelled pretty good when it came out.
I could see that there was a lot of fat floating around in there so I decided to chill it for a while so I could skim of it off. After chilling and discarding the fat, I kind of shredded the veal like you would do pulled pork or something. I decided to throw this back into the pot with some more stock and some chopped fresh tomatoes. Also, to give a little heat and flavor I threw in a couple healthy teaspoons of good quality (read expensive) Hungarian hot paprika.
The tomatoes are from my garden, I am very proud of them.
I simmered the mixture for another hour on the stove top. Towards the end, I threw in some beurre marnier to tighten up the liquid. When it was good and ready I whipped up some whole wheat couscous and ladled some of the stew on top.
Verdict: I actually really liked this. It was good and spicy and went well with the couscous. The veal was a little too tender, it almost became merely a texture component in a spicy tomato sauce. Next time I might cut the roast into chunks and brown those to make a more traditional kind of stew. Hopefully I won't get any headaches from the MSG in the sofrito.