Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: veal


We call this recipe Chuletas de Terneta Guisada, or Stewed Veal Chops. This is where we get into semantics. Some in my family, especially the older crowd, called it Chuletas de Ternera en Caldo, which literally translates as “Veal Chops in Broth.” Now, a broth, to me, is like a thin soup. In this recipe the veal is poached or cooked in beef stock, with the addition of a little Puerto Rican rum. So, I stick by my moniker of Stewed Veal Chops.

Whatever you call it, it makes for a hearty veal dish. Which is another contradiction in terms since veal is considered such a fine meat. You usually see it in veal scaloppine, where the veal is pound thinly before cooking. This is not scaloppine. This is veal loin chops cooked in beef stock. Back on the block, the usual accompaniment to this dish was rice. But you can serve it with any grain of choice or even over pasta. This time we served it with herbed potatoes.  With a  light red wine, such as a Bardolino, Barbera or Beaujolais, it hits the spot. If you’re choice is a white, then a Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis will do. Hell, whatever you want to drink with it is okay. In our clan we don’t stand on formality.

(Stewed Veal Chops)


6-8 loin veal chops (1½ to 2 pounds total weight depending on size of chops)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup beef broth or stock
2 ounces dark rum
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


  1. Season veal chops with salt, pepper and oregano.
  2.  Heat butter in a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add chops and brown quickly in butter. Add beef stock and rum. Lower heat and simmer slowly for 9-10 minutes, or until desired degree of doneness. Garnish with parsley and serve. If you want to be fancy about it, you can arrange veal on a serving platter, garnish and serve.
    Yield: 4-6 servings

TERNERA CON JEREZ (Veal with Sherry)

This is a dish that came to our culture via Spain. To my parents generation and their forebears, Spain was considered La Madre Patria, the mother country. The Spaniards had ruled the Caribbean since the time of Columbus, so it’s natural that such influences would continue in Puerto Rico even after the Americans took over the island in 1898. Ternera con Jerez reflects that view since Jerez, the fortified wine from Andalusia, makes up the main component to this recipe.

Initially when we made this dish, we did not add cream. The dish is flavorful enough as it it, but if you want an even richer rendition, then add the cream. As noted below, it’s optional.

The recipe calls for one veal cutlet, cut into 4 segments. Sometimes you may find  smaller individual cutlets and you can substitute those, as long as they are at least 3 ounces each.


(Veal with Sherry)


1 large veal cutlet, about 1½ to 2 pounds, sliced into 4 pieces
4 tablespoons flour
Salt and ground back pepper taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
1½ teaspoons fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onions
1 cove garlic, peeled and minced
½ cup dry Sherry, preferably Fino
2 tablespoons heavy cream, optional
1 tablespoon chopped chives.


  1. Pound veal pieces between 2 sheets of aluminum foil or waxed paper until ¼-inch thick or less. Combine flour, salt, pepper, oregano and thyme. Dredge veal in flour and shake off any excess.
  2.  In a skillet large enough to hold veal pieces comfortably in a single layer, heat butter over medium heat. When hot, add veal and cook about 4 minutes on one side, then 2 minutes on the other side.
  3.  Remove veal to a warm platter. Add onion and garlic to the skillet, and cook a few minutes until onion is soft. Add sherry and raise heat to medium-high. Scrap up particles from the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Stir in cream, and as soon as the sauce thickens, pour over veal. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.


Osso Buco (or Ossobuco) is famous in Lambard cuisine.  It’s basically braised veal shanks with vegetables, white wine and broth. What I did not know is that my mother had been cooking this dish for years in our humble adobe in Spanish Harlem. She called it  Carne Ternera Guisada, or Braised Veal Shanks. All that time she was cooking a Northern Italian specialty, and we didn’t know it. It just shows the cross-currents of regional cuisines, and how they influenced each other.

Depending upon her whim, my mom would add carrots or potatoes to the dish; and we would serve it with yellow rice. Not the traditional risotto or polenta as done in Lombardy.

This is a hearty meal permeated with herbs, spices and wine. This time around we served it atop couscous, one of our favorite grains. You can use whatever grain is favored, or pasta. Add a good Chianti, Zinfandel or Cabernet, and you’re set.

(Osso Buco)


4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
4 medium-sized veal shanks
3 tablespoons flour
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
1 (15-oz.) can whole or diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 cup Chablis or Rhine wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
Salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. In a Dutch oven or heavy kettle, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and lamb shanks dusted lightly with flour; and brown on all sides.
  2.  Add onion, carrots, tomatoes, bay leaves and wine. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook very slowly until tender, about 1½ to 2 hours.
  3.  Stir in parsley and grated lemon rind. Add salt and pepper, and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.





Back in Spanish Harlem, the family did not eat that much veal. Reason being, it was an expensive cut of meat. Thus, veal was a special occasion for us. And when we had it, Ternera en Fricasé was one of our most popular renditions. You can call it veal fricassée. Years later I learned that our version was similar to the French dish called Veal Marengo. In that renowned effort, mushrooms and parsley are combined with the meat to create a sort of veal stew. We do it the Nuyorican way in that we adhere to a simple mix consisting of broth, tomato sauce, onions and pepper strips. If desired, quartered potatoes, capers and olives can be included in the mix. Just increased liquid content accordingly by adding ½ cup water.

Back on the block, the accompaniment to this dish was arroz con gandules,  or rice with pigeon peas (see blog 12/01/14 for a recipe). This time around we used mashed potatoes and,as a side dish, it was perfect.

Let me add that this recipe is from my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Running Press). It’s still out there, folks.

(Veal Fricassée)


2 pound boneless shoulder of veal, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup flour
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into ¼-inch strips
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crush
1 cup beef broth or bouillon
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon fresh chopped thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf


  1. Rinse veal and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  Season flour with salt and pepper.
  3.  Dredge veal chunks in seasoned flour
  4.  Heat oil in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Sauté onions, bell pepper and garlic over moderate heat for about 4 minutes. Add veal and cook until meat is lightly browned (another 2-3 minutes).
  5.  Add broth, tomato sauce, oregano, thyme a d bay leaf. Stir to combine.
  6.  Cover and simmer, on low heat, for 20-30 minutes or until veal is tender.
    Yield: 4 servings

Valentine’s Day Treat – Veal Marsala

Normally, Valentine’s Day, apart from the flowers and candy, is a time when you and your special someone go to a restaurant, have the Valentine’s Day special, and make goo-goo eyes at each other while waiters hover about taking orders and carrying food. Well, here’s a thought: why not cook a special meal for that special someone? That’s right. Stay home, light up a few candles, put on a Barry White CD, chill the champagne, and make a special dish that will knock their socks off. If there are kids in the way, park ’em with your in-laws or shell out some cash for a baby sitter. Remember, Valentine’s Day comes but once a year. A good, romantic meal will make up for a lot, laddies and lassies.

And nothing lights up the sequence like Veal Marsala. I know, it sounds Frenchified, but it ain’t. Also, it’s quite easy to prepare. Not time consuming at all; so you’ll have more time to hold hands and do whatever. Naturally, you need Marsala to prepare the dish. It’s a sweet to semi-sweet fortified wine similar to port or sherry. You want to use the sweet Marsala (dolce—such as a Rubino). The wine gives a unique flavor to the dish that cannot be imitated by any other type of wine—so do not substitute. Only Marsala wine will do. I like to cook the veal in an electric skillet at the table since you have to flame the meat, and it adds that special elegance when you want to impress your partner. Be careful to use a long matchstick so it doesn’t backfire and you burn yourself.

Now, for that special meal, start off with a salad, or a cream soup such as mushroom or spinach. To enhance that continental flavor you can add some garlic bread. If you don’t know how to make garlic bread, you can substitute a round facaccia loaf, sprinkle some garlic on it, and drizzle it with a light olive oil (don’t worry about the garlic. At this point, you’re mind and body are going to be on other things). And to end the meal, nothing beats big juicy strawberries, halved and served with some light cream. Or you can take whole strawberries and dip them in cream or brown cane sugar and offer it to each other. You get the idea.

This entree can be served with rice or steamed vegetables and/or potatoes as an accompaniment. Veal Marsala can also be made with chicken breasts (Chicken Marsala). Just pound chicken breasts halves to about 1/4-inch thick or less and cook just like the veal. Either way, whichever ingredient you use, your true love is going to love you more.


1/2 pound veal, sliced wafer thin, or 4 veal cutlets (about 3 ounces each), thinly sliced
Note: if the veal cutlets are not sliced thin, you can pound them between two sheets of wax
paper or aluminum foil until 1/4-inch thick or less
3 tablespoons four
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup Marsala wine
2-3 parsley sprigs

1. Combine the flour with the salt and pepper. Dredge the veal in flour and shake off any excess.
2. In a skillet large enough to hold the veal comfortably in s single layer, heat the butter over medium heat. When it is hot, brown veal quickly on both sides.
3. Add shallots and mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add Marsala wine. Place a lighted match to it and flame it. Saute all the ingredients until the flame dies down. This should be done rather quickly (you don’t want to overcook the meat). Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings.

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