We all have our strange little peccadilloes, don’t we? I love foie gras, but never cook veal. Don’t ask me why - weird mental thing.
But I came upon these beautiful chops and it brought me in mind of one of my favorite Italian restaurants - Nonna’s on Ogletown-Stanton Road. They closed a long time ago, and I miss it sorely. I never had a bad meal there, but my favorite was always their veal chop.
This is an amazingly simple dish (as I find much of the best Italian cuisine to be), so it’s a fast and easy way to impress your family or guests.
2 veal chops, about 1-1 1/4 inch thick
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup sliced mixed olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small fennel bulbs, sliced*
handful of cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
A few shavings of Parmesan Cheese
*A note about fennel: If you don’t cook very often, fennel may not be a vegetable that’s often in your rotation. But give it a try if you haven’t. While I love the anise-y, licorice-y flavor of crisp raw fennel, it takes on a much more mellow flavor when cooked, especially this way, like things in the allium family do (though believe it or not, it’s part of the carrot family).
Rub the chops with 1 tablespoon oil, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper and let sit on a plate for 15 minutes. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add remaining oil. Add chops to pan and cook until golden brown and then flip.
Add the fennel, tomatoes, and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.
Place the cast iron pan in the oven and roast at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
Add wine and stock to cast iron pan and stir up brown bits from bottom in with the vegetables. Taste the veggies - they may need a little salt & pepper/ If the internal temperature is not close to 145, return the pan to the oven and roast in increments of 5 minutes until it comes to temperature.
Serve chops with juice from pan. then top with basil and a bit of Parmesan, veggies on the side.
Normally I’d serve a Tuscan like a Sangiovese with this, but I think the fennel takes it in a bit of a different direction. I had it with the Jadot Pouilly Fuisse and enjoyed it.
Enjoy your quick trip to Italy.