If I didn’t have to eat, I would probably hibernate like a bear in the winter. But somewhere beneath my utter dislike of cold weather, a happy little girl is bundled in five layers of jackets, scarves, and hats trying to raise her puffy-jacketed arms to gleefully shout, “now’s the time to eat comfort food!” So, I brave blustery winds to go to the store so I can feed that loud-spoken craving. The rich flavors of meaty sauces and the likelihood of a strong cheese are enough to make me almost be excited to slip on winter boots.
I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I can’t eat enough comfort food. It’s a problematic indulgence. Except indulgence sounds like I only eat so-called comfort foods occasionally. That’s entirely not true. Maybe it should be called an addiction. A problematic addiction. I could have a worse dependency though, right?
On a cold day, is there anything as wonderful as a cheesy, spicy bowl of chili? Since I’m talking at the moment, I’ll go ahead and respond, “yes, there is. A bowl of chili eaten in front of a fire with cider mulling on a nearby stove. And, maybe, a large dog nestled at your feet.” But if we’re simply talking about food, chili – or some other comfort food – wins.
Last night, I made pappardelle with veal ragu. It was a serious battle to keep from sampling the simmering combination of red wine and onions and garlic and what I know was the incredibly tasty juices left behind by the browned veal. I want to – really want to ¬– say that it smelled better than it tasted, but that implies that it did not taste good. It tasted very good. It’s just that the ingredients simmer together for two hours, so while I sat in front of a blazing fire reading a new cookbook I got for Christmas, these incredible scents were wafting out of the kitchen and tempting my nose. Two hours of smelling before I could eat. It was very hard.
Pappardelle with Veal Ragu
From Food & Wine
3 lbs. boneless veal shoulder cut into 1-inch chunks
salt and pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp ground fennel
1 ½ cups dry red wine
Two 28 oz. cans whole Italian tomatoes, drained and chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 ½ tbs rosemary
2 lbs. fresh Pappardelle
Fresh Parmesan, for topping
Season veal with salt and pepper and toss with flour. You want the veal to be coated, but not to excess, so dust off extra. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in Dutch oven. Add veal and cook until all sides are browned, about 12 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to a plate.
Pour the remaining oil into the Dutch oven. Add garlic, onion, fennel, and coriander and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil; reduce to ⅓ cup, about another five minutes. Add tomatoes and cook over medium heat for five more minutes. Add stock and rosemary and bring back to a boil. Add veal and partially cover the pot. Cook over low heat for two hours and prepare yourself to be awed by delicious smells.
Remove the veal and shred it. Boil the sauce for ten minutes to further reduce it. Stir in the meat.
In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return pasta to pot. Pour sauce on top of pasta and gently stir to coat. Serve with fresh Parmesan.
Picnic Tip: An insulated lunch tote will take your leftovers from the fridge to your office so you can have a delicious lunch the next day.