Veal Spezzatino

A last minute garnish of finely chopped lemon zest and flat leaf parsley does wonders for this simple yet simply delicious Italian stew. Spezzatino means stew (spezza means to cut, so literally spezzatino means cut small). My version is blessedly modest, seasoned with a hint of rosemary, chopped carrot, celery and onion, white wine and water or light chicken stock. It is served over sloppy polenta slackened with Parmesan and butter, finished with the zesty parsley garnish and more grated Parmesan. Look out for British rose veal or make it with stewing steak.

Serves 4

Prep: 30 min

Cook: 60-90 min

1kg lean stewing veal or

1kg skirt or trimmed shin or chuck steak

3-4 tbsp olive oil

1 large carrot

1 fennel bulb

1 medium onion

1 sprig rosemary

flour for dusting

200ml dry white wine

350ml light chicken stock or water

25g flat leaf parsley

1 large unwaxed lemon

200g quick-cook polenta

800ml boiling water

50g butter

50g grated Parmesan extra for serving

     Cut the meat into kebab-size pieces. Dust with flour, shaking off the excess. Brown the meat in batches in 2 tbsp hot oil in a spacious heavy-bottomed, lidded pan that can accommodate the stew. Transfer to a plate as you go. Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Scrape, trim and chop the carrot in Dolly Mixture size pieces. Chop the fennel the same size. Strip the rosemary from the stalk and chop the spikes to dust. When the meat is done, add 1 ½ (half) tbsp oil to the pan and add onion and rosemary, tossing around for a few minutes before adding carrot and fennel, salt and pepper. Stir, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir the meat into the semi-cooked vegetables, add the wine, stirring as it bubbles away. Stir in the stock, season lightly with salt and pepper, cover and cook at a steady simmer for 90 minutes or until the meat is very tender. Finely chop the flat leaf parsley and lemon zest (no white) then chop together to mix. When ready to serve, tip the stew into a warmed serving bowl. Keep warm while you cook the polenta. Boil a full kettle while you wash the pan. Stir the polenta into 800ml salted boiling water from the kettle, stirring for 1-2 minutes until thick. Slacken with butter and Parmesan, stir to dissolve and serve in the middle of hot plates topped with stew strewed with the parsley and lemon zest garnish and extra Parmesan.