Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dolce Vita!

dol·ce  vi·ta:
noun, Italian
: A life of heedless pleasure and luxury.

A brief post today about a delicious meal with a perfect name that my husband and I make together  from one of my favorite local restaurants.... 

Donatello has been a landmark restaurant in the Tampa area for 25+ years and was one of the first places we dined when we moved here.  A beautiful menu, top notch service, old school Italian atmosphere, piano bar, plus every lady receives a rose before leaving after dinner each evening not to mention the food has been wonderful for us each visit.  As Jon Palmer Claridge wrote in his Creative Loafing review, "The place is kind of old-school Italian and a little gaudy, but then so is the Duomo in Siena."  His review is not the most kind, but it is fair and honest and with that I cannot argue with his view - although having visited the Duomo in Siena I think it is perfect.  Rommie Johnson wrote a much more decadent review from the Tampa Tribune a couple years ago - again citing the price as a main issue but how worthwhile it can be on occasion.  Thus - the reason I felt compelled to try to get the recipe for my latest favorite indulgence and save myself some dollars to spend on tea or wine (lol, inside joke for those who have read my previous posts).  :)

I had never tried veal before dining at Donatello but the dish sounded so good -described as Vitello Dolce Vita served with prosciutto, portobellos and black truffle shavings.  This was heaven on a plate -a perfectly rich white wine reduction and layers of flavor.

I enjoyed it so much that I signed up for their email newsletter a few years ago in which they shared recipes from time to time. I requested this particular recipe never dreaming they would share it- much less that I would ever delve into trying to make veal being so new to the dish and not sure what this glorious recipe might entail.  Lo and behold they did share it and I couldn't be happier!

Having made this last night together, I remember how simple it truly is to make- given the right ingredients on hand-this could be tweaked easily into a chicken dish as well.  I am happy to share it with you today.  I think you will find it extremely easy and undeniably worth the ingredients - be it a special occasion or the desire for something a little richer than usual for a Wednesday night  at home.   Of course you can tweak it to your liking and omit the truffle shavings, etc. as I will mention in my own tweaks below... no matter what you will enjoy it!

Ingredients for dinner for 2:
*try not to skimp on the olive oil, wine, etc. it makes a difference in this one.
  • 4 slices veal scallopini (Fresh Market usually carries this thinly pounded veal)
  • flour
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 T chopped shallots
  • 2 oz. dry white wine (I used half a bottle for extra sauce)
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 oz. prosciutto (julienned/ cut into small slivers)
  • 2 oz. portobello mushrooms (julienned) *easily omitted or replaced with another shroom
  • 1 t. black truffle shaving *Having none on hand I used a splash of (gasp) truffle oil which worked fine, this too can be omitted if need be.
  • 3/4 C. brown veal stock (*easily substituted but please make or use a low sodium broth)
  • 1 oz. (half a stick) of chilled butter (use the real thing and ensure it is very cold)
Dust your veal with flour - don't over flour and no need to moisten it first- we are not frying it.  You may add some pepper to your flour but please don't add salt at this point- the sauce more than makes up for the need later on - trust me!

Julienne your prosciutto and your portobellos.  Also chop your shallots if you didn't buy them jarred.
Heat olive oil in a skillet and add veal cooking on medium for one minute on each side.

Do not over cook - this thin beef cooks quickly and could become tough if you let it linger.
Remove the veal and keep it warm/covered on the side.

In the same skillet, add shallots and cook for two minutes until transparent, then add the proscitto and cook it for a couple of minutes allowing some brown bits to gather a little on the bottom.  Add the mushrooms and the sage and cook for a couple more minutes.
Add the wine and let it reduce by half.... since I chose to add a half of a bottle for extra sauce this took a good 7 minutes or so.... by reducing the wine you allow the flavors to concentrate.  While it is reducing be sure to use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits of meat off the bottom of the pan adding to your depth of flavor.  Once reduced, add in the truffle shavings or truffle oil and then pour in your stock.  You may now place the veal back into the sauce.
Now is the time to check for seasonings- before you added the stock the sauce would be very salty so please hold back on your seasonings until this point and definitely use a low or no sodium stock - homemade of course is the best - chicken or beef stock work perfectly fine.

Place the chilled butter into the pan and cook for two more minutes.

Place the veal onto plates and cover with sauce.

We served ours with some brown rice but pasta is certainly a wonderful option as well - anything to soak in the rich reduction is perfect. I also found that adding some fontina at the end is a nice touch.
My husband even surprised me with some roses before dinner just to make me smile.  This was way better than the after dinner roses and kiss they give you at Donatello's....
Buon Appetito!

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