Pan-Roasted Veal with Radicchio

Vitello in Tegame Col Radicchio

The succulence and tastiness of this roast derive in part from the cooking method and in part from the specific combination of meat and vegetable. The method is the characteristically Italian one of cooking meat on top of the stove rather than in the oven, a procedure that, as I have mentioned elsewhere in these pages, produces very satisfying depth of flavor.

You should also note that once the veal is cooked and sliced, you return it to the pot and turn the slices over at low heat in the combined cooking juices and vegetables. This is a brief step, taking less than a minute, which does wonders for the finished dish because every surface of the meat becomes impregnated by the flavors of the roast, and at the same time the meat recovers some of the heat lost during the slicing. I follow this step any time that I am roasting a whole piece of meat, whether it is veal, beef, or pork.

The radicchio helps the naturally mild-flavored veal achieve a greater intensity and richness of taste than it would otherwise be capable of. If the long-leafed Treviso radicchio is available to you, it should be your first choice, but failing that you can obtain equally satisfactory results with that closely related member of the chicory family, Belgian endive.

Tenderloin yields the most tender and juicy results with this recipe, but a nice boned shoulder will certainly not disappoint. If you are using shoulder, do not have the butcher roll it up and truss it, because you would then not be able to brown all its parts.

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Ingredients

  • ½ pound long-leaf Treviso radicchio or Belgian endive
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pounds veal tenderloin or boned shoulder; see headnote
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly mashed with the handle of a knife
  • tablespoons very finely chopped pancetta
  • Salt
  • cup dry white wine
  • Black pepper ground fresh

Method

  1. If you are using Treviso radicchio with its long root still attached, pare the root down to a short nub. If the root has been cut off, as it is in endive, trim away a thin slice from the butt end and detach the leaves from the radicchio or endive, discarding any blemished ones. Shred the leaves lengthwise into narrow strips about inch wide, soak briefly in cold water, and drain.
  2. Choose a sauté pan or skillet into which the meat can fit cozily, put in the olive oil, and turn the heat on to medium high. When the oil is hot enough that it sizzles instantly on contact with the meat, put in the veal. Brown it thoroughly on one side, then turn it, adding the mashed garlic cloves.
  3. When the meat has been browned on all sides, transfer it to a plate and add the pancetta to the pan. Turn the pancetta over three or four times during 1 minute of cooking, then put in the shredded radicchio or endive, sprinkling it lightly with salt. Turn the vegetable over a few times to coat it well, and cook it until it becomes limp and colored a light brown.
  4. Return the meat to the pan, and add the wine. While you let the wine bubble completely away, use a wooden spoon to scrape loose any browning residues stuck to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the meat with salt and several grindings of pepper, turn it a few times, then lower the heat and put a lid on the pan. Cook at a slowly sputtering simmer, turning the meat over occasionally. Whenever you find that the juices in the pan are insufficient to keep the meat from sticking, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Cook until the meat feels very tender when poked with a sharp fork, about 1 hour or more.
  5. When done, transfer the piece of veal to a cutting board, slice it thin, and return the slices to the pan. Over low heat, for about half a minute, turn the slices over to coat them well. Serve from a warm platter, pouring the full contents of the pan over the meat.

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