Leftover roast veal, leftover cioppino base, a few veggies and some pantry items came together recently to make an unfairly delicious stew.
Unfair to the Hubs as I made it when he was out of town.
So it was all mine.
It appears that Mother Nature was checking her watch very closely this year, and the instant Labor Day was over she sent a serious bout of rain and chilly Autumn weather to douse NYC.
Frankly I'm FINE with that because I'd rather wear fuzzy sweaters and socks over sweating in spaghetti-strap sundresses any day. (Could a throw a few more S's in there?)
Even more so, it made a great excuse to make warm and savory food!
For this stew I used 2 peeled and sliced carrots, 1 minced shallot, 2 cloves of garlic, about 1/2 cup of chopped reconstituted porcini mushrooms, 1 tsp dried rosemary, leftover cioppino for the tomato aspect, and some concentrated veal glacé.
Add hot water to your dried porcinis before you start peeling and chopping so they have 20 minutes or so to get plump again.
There was also the glorious roast veal. It was super flavorful and tender, leftover from a huge meal at Betto in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
This baby cow did not die in vain.
Start with the obvious, sautéing the shallot, garlic, and carrot in some olive oil with a pinch of salt.
When that begins to soften add the porcini mushrooms (squeezed dry) and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Next I added the strained water that I rehydrated the porcinis in, as it was now mushroom stock, as well as the glacé and dried rosemary.
I was really happy that the leftover cioppino base worked in this. Not that I'm surprised as it's really just tomato, fennel, white wine and chicken stock, (I use chicken instead of fish stock so the Hubs will eat it.) but I was worried for a moment that the fennel flavor would throw off the final product of the stew.
It did not.
The real element that brought this stew together tho was removing the skin and a section of fat from the roast veal and letting it simmer in the stew for almost an hour. I left it whole so I could remove it before serving, but it imparted a huge amount of flavor. Without it this would have been edible, but nothing special.
For a base I had some polenta squares in my freezer from a while back, and since polenta freezes beautifully, it came back to life with a few minutes on the counter and only a little help from the microwave.
As I do with leftover pork tenderloin in my soups, I added the chopped veal to the bowl first and then ladled the hot stew over top to heat it thru. I wanted the veal to retain its original flavor rather than just absorb the flavors of the stew.
I encourage anyone to get creative with the bits and pieces in their fridge.
You just might end up with something wonderful.