Spring Veal Stew – the green kind.

French Fridays with Dorie
Green as Spring Veal Stew Dorie Greenspan

I’ve never been much for those” impromptu dinner party” sorts of things. At least not when they appear suddenly at my house around my dining room table. These are those hastily thrown together gatherings where guests show up on a moment’s notice and it is implied that they agree to consume whatever it is you had already planned to serve that night. After all…it’s about the company, not the food.

Uh huh.

I readily admit to my own hypocrisy here for when it is I who is playing the role of the guest in these scenarios I have no problem adhering to this unspoken agreement. I do so with all the sincerity I can muster for I know from personal experience just how hard these situations can be. I am therefore grateful to anyone who can get it together and put edible food on the table enabling some together time with friends.  It’s about the company, not the food.

But when I’m the host even when it is not about the food  it is always at least just a little bit about the food too.  So l stress a tiny bit.  Yes, even when it is ‘just’ close friends or family. And why do we say “just close friends and family’ when we talk about these types of things? If you don’t want things nice for those whom are supposed to love and care for the most then just who do you want it nice for anyway?

When people come to my house for dinner I like to control as many variables as possible which means I like to provide a well thought out dinner comprised of foods I like to think of as special — all served on a nicely arranged table. I understand that these affairs are supposed to be about the opportunity to socialize with friends and not about showing off mad cooking skills but if you can have both…why wouldn’t you?

Green as Spring Veal Stew Dorie Greenspan

I bring all of this up because last week I found myself attempting to schedule the making of this here Green as Spring Veal Stew (for French Friday’s with Dorie) for an evening when nobody I knew would be around to suffer through it.  I imagined this dish as perhaps one of the oddest recipes we’ve yet to encounter in our cooking adventure and since it wasn’t something I thought I could relate to and because I had not ever made it before I didn’t feel like I wanted to serve it to any guests.

Green stew. Very green stew. Did I tell you how green this stew is? It’s pretty green.

But veal being veal, and this particular veal being nearly $19 dollars a pound I realized I had better get over my bad self and  find a way to share it with somebody.  

I called up Belinda from across the street to see if she wanted to come over and have some of the stew with us.

“What are you having?” 

When a guest prospect asks this question immediately after I extend an invitation to dinner I  immediately get turned off.  Not only does it seems so conditional, but it also gives truth to my anxious fear that really IS about the food – at least a  bit.

“It’s a veal stew.  French. You’ll love it!”

I was lying because I had no idea at all what she would think of it since I couldn’t imagine what it would be like myself.

“Oh no! I can’t eat veal. I won’t eat veal!”

Had this been a sit-com situation and had I been drinking a cocktail when she said that this would have been that moment where the director would instruct me to spit it out all over the place for laughs for I am one of the few people alive who know the truth about the many places her mouth has been and the many things she has put in it. Knowing this as I do it seemed a bit preposterous that she would draw her buccal  ‘line in the sand’ at veal eating.

Nevertheless, I didn’t wish to get into “the veal discussion” with Belinda at that moment in time.  I don’t really wish to now either. I know there are ways to mitigate what is the inherent cruelty associated with veal, but they only take you so far along the rationalization road so let us just leave it that 1) I am indeed conflicted on the topic and 2) I wasn’t about to let Belinda be right about anything.

I had some veal to eat and with 20 minutes to spare I found some veal eating friends who would visit at dinner time. The kind of friends that weren’t going to let any moral compass get in the way of an evening spent with friends. I could tell they were sincerely unconcerned with  whether or not the green stew would be delicious.  When I tried to warn her I wasn’t sure how things would turn out or what it would taste like she said to me:

“If its bad we can always get pizza. You can’t always sit around the table with friends.”

My anxiety was not invited to this get together.

Green as Spring Veal Stew Dorie Greenspan

Fretting over this stew’s composition turned out to be pointless. Once I saw it come together in the pot.  I recognized it immediately as a very distant cousin of Ghormeh Sabzi, a Persian herb stew usually made with lamb shank or chicken but could just as easily be made veal if they had thought of it.  The dish has become of my favorites cooked by my very Persian mother-in-law.

Ghormeh sabzi usually has some kidney beans added, but other than that difference and a different mix of herbs the dish is remarkably similar so I served this version in the Persian style by accompanying it with rice cooked in a manner so that the bottom of the pot turns out a toasty golden crust. We might call this burned rice but Persians are smarter than us so they gave it its own name,  tadig, and recognize it for the delicacy that it is.  They also recognize how perfect it is for serving with stew.

Even stew that isn’t green.

Green as Spring Veal Stew Dorie Greenspan

No, that is not Belinda.

Bomb+End+of+Post4

The recipe for Dorie Geenspan’s “Green as Spring Veal Stew” can be found here.

Bomb+End+of+Post4

This Green as Spring Veal Stew recipe was  an assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “Around My French Table”. We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers, or it is, in fact, not much of a recipe at all, I will either include it here (adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe. You should buy the book though.

It will change your life — as it has mine.

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. I have veal issues, but Whole Foods is selling humanely raised veal; so I did get it for this dish, which you some how managed to photograph quiet well. But the heck with the stew: I’m in love with your rice.

  2. Your stew looks lovely Trevor. I wish we lived closer – Mr Neil would have been just a phonecall away to be your friend in veal ;)

  3. Oddly enough, cannot find veal where I shop… even at Jay’s. Will go farther away from my usual shopping areas and look for it and remake this cos my green-as-spring sauce was really mossy green and using my hubby’s turbo blender – it became a smoothie! Love the texture of your sauce!

  4. I like veal and I would readily eat veal if ever invited over to yours… heck i would readily eat anything you cooked no questions asked :) as for this one I would prefer it with lamb all these herbs seem to be calling out for it!

  5. What a lovely spread! Your rice looks like the perfect accompaniment. I’m certain Bill would have enjoyed it more had he been plied with alcohol and surrounded by friends. I’m going to have to keep that in mind for the future ;)

  6. Veal isn’t always available around here but lamb is everywhere. I agree with you, even when it’s not about the food, it’s always about the food.

  7. This sounds very good, and I love the look. Also you look FAB! I have to say that when someone asks what food will be served just after my issuing an invitation, but prior to that individual’s responding “Yes” or “No”, I too am instantly turned off. I am also bummed and proceed tout de suite to aggravated. I find myself wanting to rescind the invitation. However, the good news is no rescinding is necessary as by the time I finish telling my now former potential guest what’s on the mystery menu, I am quite confident that a “No” will be forthcoming. It’s never difficult to come up with an outlandish meal, now is it?

    Who ever your guest was – the one who did join you, I like her already. She’s got a great outlook.

    Thank you for another wonderful post. I am so impressed with all you have done with “Around My French Table.” Your commitment to work through the book in its entirety has inspired me to do the same with an Italian cookbook, and I am enjoying the process. Surely there can be no greater compliment for a cookbook author than to have a reader make not just one or two recipes, but every single one.

  8. A good time was had by all. I am glad it all worked out with the Very Green Stew. Enjoyed your post as always.

  9. When I graduated college and was first living on my own, I didn’t really know how to cook much more than pasta and my budget didn’t allow for eating out every night. Eventually I got sick of pasta and pulled the one and only cookbook I owned off the shelf. With a friend I formed a little mini cooking club, whereby every Sunday night we would meet up and cook an entire meal together. The only criteria was that it had to be something new which we had never cooked before, which was pretty darn easy in the beginning because neither of us had ever really cooked anything. It was a fantastic experience and I still look back on it fondly. Your post today reminded me of that time because, in order to take some of the anxiety out of our experimentation, we came up with a motto. That motto was, “we can always order pizza!” Meaning that the worst thing that could happen was that the meal would burn up or taste terrible, and then we would have to order pizza for dinner. To this day, I still remind myself of this motto if I am ever trying something particularly challenging in the kitchen. To date, I have only had to fall back on pizza once.

  10. I am happy you found someone to share your stew with! I also like to control as much as possible when having guests over – to the point that I don’t like having someone else bring a dish because it may not “fit” with the rest of the meal.

  11. I’m glad you found friends to share this with. Your good friends don’t care whether it comes out or not, and I’ll bet it usually does so they are properly impressed. And in this case, you hit a winner.

  12. Now, let me get this straight. From my understanding, that is not Belinda (who is probably not speaking to you anymore). Am I right on those two points? I do not entertain or cook easily so I understand exactly what you are saying. However you are a way better cook than I will ever be (that rice dish looks delicious) so I do suspect you can put a last-minute meal on the table with little effort. I never would have invited anyone over for the Stew – it just didn’t sound like an “invite-company” meal. It was not-so-terrible, was it? The photos. Tough to stomach, so to speak.

  13. It’s always about the food, even when it isn’t…

    Unless I am feeling uncharacteristically magnanimous, I generally serve two things – take it or leave it.

    And yes, the crust on the bottom of the rice is the best part.

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