CLASSIC pasta veal stew with fennel and tomatoes








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A veal stew dish with flavor plus!

This recipe, courtesy of my daughter Sarah, is derived from a veal stew recipe printed in the New York Times in the sixties. The type face of the printing of the original is a little antique, but the great flavors are totally modern.

With Pernod is it still Italian? Whatever. The fennel and the Pernod combine to give the veal a superb flavor, worthy of any nationality, and a delight on anyone's table.

Fettuccine or pappardelle make a wonderful base for the stew, as does polenta. Terrific options.


  • three pounds stewing veal
  • three tablespoons olive oil
  • one half of a large fennel head; sliced thinly
  • four cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • six medium (four large) carrots, sliced in thin rounds
  • eight small onions, Italian cippolini preferred
  • two tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves (one tablespoon dried)
  • one quarter cup plus, of Pernod (or other anise-flavored liquor)
  • one 14-oz. can of Italian peeled plum tomatoes, diced, with juices

Pat the veal pieces with a paper towel until they are dry. Spread flour on a piece of waxed paper. Add salt and pepper to the flour. Roll the veal pieces in the flour so they are fairly completely covered. Shake off the excess. (If you are doing the browning in batches, see below, probably best to do the flouring batch by batch also).

Put two tablespoons of oil into a large Dutch oven or casserole. Get the oil hot. Brown the veal. The veal pieces should not touch in the browning process, so do the browning in batches. Roll the pieces so they are browned all over. When well browned transfer them to a bowl.

Peel the onions, and then cut each of the small onions into quarters.

Add the remaining oil to the casserole. Heat. Add the garlic and let it sizzle, about twenty seconds. Add the onion, carrot, and fennel. Cook them over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until they are just starting to brown.

Return the veal, and any accumulated juices to the pan. Add the tarragon, a teaspoon of salt and a few twists of the pepper mill.

Add the Pernod -- the pan should be hot enough so it sizzles. Scrape up the juices from the bottom with a wooden spatula,

Add the tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring fairly regularly, for about 40-50 minutes. They key is the veal: it must be tender. If the stew is getting too dry or thick, add chicken stock.

Taste for seasonings and serve on the hot pasta or polenta.


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