Moschari Sofrito

Veal Stew with Garlic, Parsley and Vinegar

THE MEAT of this stew is flavored with a combination of garlic and parsley known as sofrito in Catalan and soffrito in Italian. But because this dish has neither the onions nor the tomatoes of the Catalan sofrito, it is more likely Italian in origin. (The old Venetian dialect, in fact, spells the word with one f rather than two.) Corfu and the other islands of the Ionian Sea were part of the Venetian Empire for more than four centuries, and the Venetian language, way of life and, of course, magnificent cuisine have forever marked the culture of these islands. In Corfu, especially, one can still find variations of old dishes that seem to have been forgotten by modern Italians.

Vinegar plays an important role in this classic Corfiot dish, balancing the intensity of the garlic. Over the years, I have sampled many kinds of sofrito, but none that impressed me until I tasted one made with thin, well-flattened scallopini instead of the thicker chunks of meat found in traditional versions. Using the scallopini significantly shortens the cooking time of the sofrito, so the sauce has a much fresher taste. As with all Corfiot dishes, this one should be quite peppery—some versions are sprinkled with hot paprika or crushed red pepper flakes. The dish yields plenty of delicious sauce for mashed potatoes or Polenta with Currants and Onions, two of the most common accompaniments to Corfiot sofrito.

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Ingredients

  • cup olive oil
  • 4–6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8 small or 4 large veal scallopini (about 2 pounds total), pounded to inch thick
  • cups coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
  • 1–1½ cups Chicken Stock or beef stock
  • cup dry white wine
  • cup white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½–1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large skillet, heat half of the oil and sauté the garlic over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring, until it starts to color. With a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a small bowl and set aside.

Add the veal to the skillet, in batches if necessary, and sauté, turning once, for about 2 minutes per side. Arrange the veal in overlapping layers in a 13-x-9-inch baking dish.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet, then add the garlic. When it starts to sizzle, stir in the chopped parsley, 1 cup stock, the wine, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove from the heat.

Pour the sauce over the veal, lifting the scallopini so that the sauce coats each piece. The sauce should almost cover the meat; if not, add a little more stock. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly. If you wish to thicken the sauce, use a slotted spoon to transfer the veal to a serving platter. Add the cornstarch mixture to the baking dish and boil over medium heat, stirring, until thickened, and pour the sauce over the meat. Garnish with the parsley sprigs and serve.

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Variation

Instead of veal, you can use turkey cutlets.

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