This recipe is probably the most common way we prepare veal in Nuyorican cuisine. Some variations have the onion sliced into rounds and the bell peppers cut into thin strips, then cooked with the veal and tomatoes. Some folks prefer to use tomato sauce instead of the tomatoes. I find that fresh tomatoes are best. Even, so in our family, we have a preference for canned Italian plum tomatoes . Note that carrots and small potatoes can also be added to the recipe.
To us, when we cook something a la criolla (or al criollo) it means that we prepare it country style as we know it. It has nothing to do with Creole cooking as popularized in New Orleans. Following this reasoning, we grind the seasonings in a mortar with a pestle. Today you can find this item in any kitchen shop or food market. You can omit this step and use regular prepared seasonings but, believe me, it will not taste the same or have the same verve.
The popular accompaniment to this dish is plain boiled rice. You can also complement it with such grains as rice, quinoa or couscous. We did it this time with farro, that whole grain with a nutty taste and very popular in Tuscan cooking. You can also serve it over pasta. This is a dish that enhances any meal, be it that special occasion or a mid-week dinner.
Note that this dinner calls for veal, stew but (depending on the wallet) you can substitute beef, pork, turkey or chicken.
TERNERA A LA CRIOLLA
(Veal Creole Style)
2 pounds veal stew meat
12 whole peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
Salt to taste
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 16-ounce can plum tomatoes
2 bay leaves
- Rinse stew meat under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Combine peppercorns, garlic, oregano, thyme and salt in a mortar and pound until crushed.
- Rub the veal thoroughly with crushed seasoning.
- Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan. Add onion, bell bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes over moderate heat. Add meat and and cook, stirring constantly, until browned (about 5 minutes).
- Stir in tomatoes and bay leaf, cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until tender.
Yield: 4-6 servings.
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