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