Serve with braised Italian greens, like broccoli rabe or escarole
1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium onions
1/2 cup short-grain rice (like Arborio)
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt plus additional to taste
1 pound fresh spinach
1 egg, beaten
1/4 pound ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus additional cheese for grating
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
half a veal breast (about 5 pounds), with a pocket cut for stuffing
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups veal or chicken stock
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4 carrots, quartered
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid over moderate heat. Mince 1 of the onions finely and add to the hot oil. Cook 1 minute. Add the rice, and stir to coat the rice with the oil. Add the 1 cup water, the bay leaf, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring to blend. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook 12 minutes, remove from heat, and allow to stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
2. Remove the hard stems of the spinach, and wash spinach in cold water until no grit remains (use several changes of water if necessary). Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat, and add the spinach. Cook, stirring, until the spinach is completely wilted, about 2 minutes.
3. Place the wilted spinach in a large bowl. Remove the bay leaf from the cooked rice, and add the rice to the spinach. Add the egg, ricotta, the 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the toasted pine nuts. Mix well. Season liberally with nutmeg, salt, and freshly ground pepper.
4. Stuff the pocket of the veal breast with the spinach mixture. Tie the open end shut, or close it with small skewers (like toothpicks). Season the breast with salt and pepper.
5. In a large, heavy roasting pan that's at least 5 inches deep, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and place the pan over moderately high heat. When the oil is hot, place the breast in the pan, fleshy side down, and brown it well, about 7 to 8 minutes. Turn the breast over, and brown the other side. Remove the breast to a platter. Add the wine and stock to the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits on the surface of the pan. Peel the 2 remaining onions, cut into coarse chunks, and place in the roasting pan, along with the garlic and carrots. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and bring the liquid to a low simmer. Return the veal breast, fleshy side up, to the pan. Cover. Cook over very low heat (the liquid should be gently simmering), checking every 45 minutes or so to make sure the liquid is at the same level and adding more stock if necessary, for 2 1/2 hours.
6. After 2 1/2 hours, the meat should be moist and tender. Remove the breast to a carving board, and let stand. While the veal breast is standing, pour the pan juices through a sieve into a saucepan over high heat. Press on the vegetables in the sieve with a wooden spoon to extract their juices. Discard vegetables. Boil the pan juices until they are reduced to about 2 cups.
7. Place the butter and flour in another saucepan over moderate heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the reduced pan juices to the butter and flour, and whisk in. You should have a medium-thick sauce. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
8. When ready to serve, cut the string or remove the skewers, and slice the veal breast into 4 long, thick pieces, including 1 bone with each piece. Place the slices on 4 dinner plates, and pour some of the sauce over and around each one. Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano over the veal at the table, if desired.
This delicious, Italianate recipe calls for half a veal breast; have your butcher cut a pocket into the breast for you. When the veal is cooked, it's easiest to cut the breast into four portions; unless your diners are famished, you will certainly have veal left over. Serve with braised Italian greens, like broccoli rabe or escarole. Serves 4 generously