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You will be caught off guard by the cosmic click of this cold-weather combo!
serves 4 as a main course
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 fairly thick slices of smoky bacon, cut crosswise into strips that are 1” x ½”
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 large onions, finely minced (about 4 cups of minced onion)
1/2 lb fresh sweet Italian pork sausage, skinned and crumbled
1½ lbs veal chunks, ¾” all around (see NOTE), lightly seasoned and floured
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups hot, runny polenta
Minced parsley for garnish
1. Pour the olive oil into a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until it starts to brown (about 2 minutes). Add the garlic and cook, stirring in with the bacon, until the garlic starts to brown (about a minute). Add the minced onions, stir well, lower heat to medium-low, and cook until the onion has softened, about 15 minutes.
2. Push the onion mixture to one side of the pot, turn heat to high, and add the crumbled sausage, to the empty part of the pot, making sure to keep the sausage in large crumbles. Cook until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir sausage into onion on side of pot. Add veal chunks to empty part of the pot. Cook until veal starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Combine all ingredients of pot, stirring well.
3. Add a little of the chicken stock to deglaze the crusty-brown bottom of the pot. Keep adding stock until you’ve added the entire 2 cups. Stir everything together well. Turn heat down to the lowest possible setting and cook, covered, until the veal is tender, about 1 hour. Make sure the liquid is barely simmering. Towards the end of the cooking time, turn heat up to medium-high for a minute or two to reduce the liquid in the pot.
4. When ready to serve, divide polenta among 4 wide, shallow soup bowls, placing ½ cup polenta in the center of each one. With a slotted spoon, remove about a cup of the veal mixture from the pot, and place over the polenta in one bowl. Repeat 3 more times. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
VEAL NOTE: I don’t like lean meat for stews, but it ain’t so easy to find fatty veal meat! I pulled it off by buying thick slices of raw osso buco. Simply cut the meat away from the bone, making sure to trim out all the silver skin. Then cut meat into ¾” cubes. They cook wonderfully well as stew! Oh…and if you have some sneaky ideas about incorporating the bones and/or marrow into the stew somehow…I heard nothing about it. Or let’s put it this way: I would NEVER tell your fat-phobic spouse!