Muscle Memory

23 Aug

Have you ever been cooking something and your muscles, whether arms/fingers/brain, do all the work?  Sometimes I find myself chasing memories of recipes.  One in particular is a veal dish my dad used to make, he called it veal mezzanotte because he had made it in graduate school at midnight.  Here’s what I remember from shopping at Nino Salvaggio’s and then cooking at home with Poppie, since he never wrote down the recipe.

Vitello Mezzanotte:

1 lb. maybe 1.5 lbs. of veal cubes

2 garlic cloves

1 white onion

10 mushroom tops sliced in various thicknesses (too thin they turn to mush)

Spices — enough dried herbs and spices to cover the top of the stew, layer after layer (oregano, tarragon, basil, 1/2 tsp. coriander)

Bottle of Beaujolais-Villages – Louis Jadot

Basically what happens:  you toss in the diced garlic and onion with the mushrooms and some olive oil in a large deep skillet ’til it cooks down and browns up.  Over top, add the veal cubes, once they start to turn a little opaque add half a bottle of the beaujolais.  Then start layering the herbs so they cover the surface of the meat and wine, one after the other.  The coriander is added last.  Cover and let simmer for 2 hours, uncover and let some of the water/wine cook off for about 20 minutes.  Poppie always served it with mashed redskin potatoes and green beans.  I think I would also serve it with an Abbey Dubbel like St. Bernardus Prior 8 — it has a serious alcohol aroma that can stand up to the amount of beaujolais in the stew while complementing the earthy notes of the herbs with its own dark fruit, ripe raisin aroma and flavor.  The flavors don’t overwhelm each other but serve to improve the body of the beer.  RIP Papa.

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