Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spezzatino con piselli

I live in Italy and as I have already told you more than once, Thursday will be just another day -office, taking children to a birthday party, dinner, getting ready for another school/work day on Friday - so I have plenty more time on my hands right now than most fellow Americans.
Granted, we will be eating turkey meat for dinner and cranberries will make an appearance in some form on our table, but I am not standing in my kitchen cursing right now like so many of you probably are. Or maybe not since you are sitting here reading my blog, in which case, what are you doing here??? Get moving, Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow!
We may not celebrate Thanksgiving as much as we would like to for all the reasons above, but it still is a time of the year to stop and think about what I have and say thanks.

I am thankful I am not a turkey.
Ok. Just joking.
But not entirely.
I am thankful I have first world problems to worry about, like will the buttercream frosting for the birthday cake I am baking this week end turn out ok or not.
I am thankful for the circle of life. Two days ago I found out that the place my grandmother just left in this world will be filled by a brand new soul: a person I love dearly just told me, in these exact words, that she is baking a second turkey this Thanksgiving, due in April. Making a turkey is not always as easy as it looks and she is some of the best mom material out there, so I couldn't be happier. It makes loss easier when you realize that those who have lived a full life must leave room to others who are still waiting to get their first, incredibly sweet taste.
For more things that really count when you are giving thanks, go here and here.

Here is something you might feel like making now if you are not American, or next week when you are all turkeyed out if you are.
This dish is a classic Italian recipe, the kind grandmas were making long before we were born. It is traditionally made with veal, the less noble cuts, and it is great to eat as a main course accompanied by mashed potatoes, rice or polenta.

Ingredients (4 servings)
800gr/1.7 lbs veal
about 250ml/1.5 cups stock (vegetable or meat)
1 large carrot
1 celery stalk
1 onion
500gr/1lbs peas
3 tbsp flour
olive oil
1 cup white wine (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan with lid. Dredge the meat in flour, shake of excess and sear in hot oil until browned. Set aside. Prepare a soffritto (mirepoix) chopping up the carrot, celery and onion and sauté in the pan where you previously seared the meat, without cleaning it. You want all those caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan to add flavor.
When the vegetables have started to soften, add the meat again and season with pepper and salt. If you have white wine, use it now to deglaze the pan. Otherwise simply use the stock, pouring in a little of it and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. After a minute or two, pour in the rest of the stock, making sure the meat is almost covered.

Cover with lid and let cook on low heat, about 30-45 minutes. When the meat starts getting soft, add the peas (I used frozen peas, without thawing) and cover, letting them cook with the stew a little while. When the peas are cooked through (do not let them overcook) and the meat is fall-apart tender, your spezzatino is ready to serve. This dish can be prepared in advance and reheated. I suggest adding the peas later, when you are re-heating, so they don't turn green-grey and wrinkly in the process. 


  1. I'm celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time ever this year but normally this Thursday would be no different for me either. I love turkey at Christmas but the rest of the year there are some many more interesting meats. I adore veal and this looks like a lovely, simple dish, perfect for the upcoming cold months.

  2. Belated Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I'm glad you were able to celebrate in some way. I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother. That's a lovely looking dish and yes, I think this would be wonderful with polenta xx

  3. Ohhh Great.. I Liked.



  4. Happy Thanksgiving! Love that stew, it reminds me a bit of the French stews like blanquette.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope you had a lovely one. And lol I'm thankful I'm not a turkey too :D Although I can act like one at times I'm sure! :P

  6. We had a great Thanksgiving with family—missing only my niece, who is studying in Paris. She plugged in through Skype.

    I remember Thanksgivings in Italy. We made a point of organizing a dinner party on the weekend for our Italian friends, complete with special order whole turkey—talk about a conversation piece! It was a lot of fun, actually, but not quite the same as the family holiday back home.


    1. I agree, Thanksgiving is just not the same abroad and is probably why I don't make a huge deal about it.
      There is another thing for us who have family far away to be incredibly thankful for: Skype. It truly changed my life.

  7. What a wonderful post. And so true about the "first world problems". We are very lucky, aren't we? And lucky to have the chance to live in a foreign country, raising foreign (almost) children... This year my son asked for a real Thanksgiving meal and my French husband made a cheese fondu. Son loved it but warned me that I still owed him a Thanksgiving meal! Would this spezzatino con piselli work? I love this dish and thank you for the recipe!

    1. Yes, we truly are lucky. I think a late Thanksgiving dinner is probably the best: delicious food minus the stress! The spezzatino is surely tasty but not really authentic... but you could try it with turkey meat... let me know.

    2. What a beautiful dish! I love veal, it's the meat of choice for Greeks and the simplicity of it all is amazing. I hope you've had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


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