Romanian Veal and Veggie Stew
At your request, this #homemadeMonday I blew the dust from my grandmother´s old cooking book and tried my best to find a recipe that would feel like Romania. That´s how I got to the veal and veggie stew, or "papricaș de vițel și legume" as we call it in Transylvania. It´s one of the greatest comfort food recipes I know from Romanian cuisine, immensely versatile as you can play around with the ingredients a lot and finger licking delicious. I made my first ever stew when I wasn´t even 10. I had to stand on a little stool next to the stove and stir in the pot at my grandma´s indications until my arm was numb. Now sadly, I am not able to reproduce that recipe, but combining the one in the recipe book with some improvisations (hello red wine!) makes for a pretty kick-ass one anyway. So here goes.
400 g veal meat (can be replaced with chicken or left out completely)
three garlic cloves
a tsp red pepper powder or paste (boia in Romanian)
a bay leaf
a small bundle of fresh parsley
400 g tomato paste
50 ml red wine
1. Chop the onions really small and the veal, carrots, potatoes and onion into bite sized pieces.
2. In a pot or a high pan fry the onion until golden, then add half a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of red pepper powder. Fry for another minute.
3. Add the veal. Next add the red wine and fry for five minutes or until the meat is no longer red on the outside.
4. Add the carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, and finally the tomato paste. Cover everything in water. Don´t put too much water as they might boil too much. Instead, if you feel like they haven´t boiled enough, add water gradually as the one in the pot evaporates.
5. Add the bay leaf and let boil for 30 minutes or until about half the water has evaporated. Don´t forget to cover the pot for the meat to stay juicy!
6. Chop the garlic and the parsley leaves and add them to your pan, letting the stew boil for another 20 minutes or until there´s as much sauce as you like. Note: I know it might sound odd to add the garlic at such a late stage but I tried doing it as the recipe was demanding it and found it much more flavoursome like this.
7. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve by itself or with some sour cream and bread.