When it comes to weeknight cooking, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut. Especially when you haven’t gone grocery shopping for awhile and most of your favorite stuff has already been eaten, or you realize that even though you have four boxes of pasta, you don’t have any tomato sauce or parmesan cheese, and the thought of eating pasta without either of those things just makes you want to die. Or you look in your freezer and realize pretty much everything you have would require ample defrosting time, and even more ample cooking time. It’s like, sorry, self; I’m not going to start making short ribs at 7:30 in the evening.
And sometimes, I’ll admit, I get very ‘first-world-problems-y,’ when I look in my well-stocked pantry/fridge/freezer and think, “I don’t feel like making any of this.” I try to buy a variety of foods, try new things, eat leftovers, etc. etc. etc., but sometimes I just turn into a total brat and simply don’t want to eat chicken again because I just ate it for dinner last night and lunch today, or don’t waaaannaaaaaa make turkey burgers if I don’t have rolls or burger buns, even when there’s a perfectly good loaf of bread in the fridge. (It’s not weird that I keep my bread in the fridge, right?)
Which brings me to veal. I know there are people out there with hangups about veal because baby cows are cute or whatever. I have no such hangups, although veal isn’t something I tend to buy or make on the regs. But one day, I had a package of veal chops sitting in my freezer. And one day, I didn’t want to make Mongolian beef or chicken scarpariello or penne with vodka sauce for the umpteenth time. So I opened my (increasingly dog-eared) copy of Foolproof, knowing I’d seen a recipe for veal chops in there somewhere, and decided to make some veal chops with caramelized shallots in a port wine sauce.
I’m going to be honest with you … this is good, but not my favorite thing. Port is sweeter than most wines, and considering I don’t generally care for sweet wines to begin with… yeah, I know, I’m not sure why I decided on port, either. While I’d probably opt for a dry white wine-based sauce in the future (or do a half-port, half-dry red sauce, hmmmm…), this was still, as I said, good. And if you’re someone who enjoys drinking or cooking with port, you might like it more than I did.
I made some changes to the recipe – mainly, cutting it back in some parts. I cut back on the number of shallots.
(15, Contessa? 15 shallots? I like you, lady, but that’s a lot of shallots. I used five, and had more than enough.)
I also only made two chops instead of four, and used sherry instead of sherry vinegar, because that was easier to find and I’m a little lazy. However, I didn’t cut back on the sauce, because I figured we could spoon it over our mashed potatoes – because really, who doesn’t love spooning sauce or gravy over mashed potatoes? That’s what they’re for, for crying out loud.
Veal chops with caramelized shallots (Adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s Foolproof, serves 2)
5 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 head of garlic, peeled
4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
salt and pepper
1/3 cup sherry
1/3 cup ruby port wine
1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 bone in rib veal chops
3 tbsp olive oil
Preheat your oven to 375.
In a large, ovenproof saute pan, melt two tablespoons of butter, then add your shallots, garlic, salt and pepper, and saute for two minutes over medium high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and place it in the oven for 30 minutes, tossing once, until the shallots and garlic are golden brown.
Place the pan on the stovetop, add the remaining two tablespoons of butter and saute over medium heat for three minutes. Add the sherry and port and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for five minutes, or until the liquid is reduced. Add the brown sugar and thyme, and cook until syrupy, about one to two minutes.
(Can we just take a moment and look at my incredibly crowded stove? I might be a mental patient.)
Meanwhile (you can do this while your shallots are in the oven), pat your veal chops dry, then season them with salt and pepper.
Heat your olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, then cook the veal chops about six to eight minutes per side, until browned and cooked to an internal temp of about 145. Transfer to a plate or serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow them to rest for about 10 minutes.
Spoon the shallot-garlic sauce over the chops (and mashed potatoes!), sprinkle with extra fresh thyme and salt, and serve hot.