The day before my birthday this year, I was feeling the creative juices flowing in the kitchen. (I try to cook as little as possible on the actual day. That’s the day to go out and have some wonderful restaurant’s kitchen cook for me!) I let inspiration take me where it felt like and basically just riffed happily along–basically my favorite way to cook– and I was really happy with the final product.
I decided to splurge on a beautiful veal shoulder roast from the farmers market. I also had some tomatillos (both purple and green) that I’d been meaning to turn into sauce. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea of bringing hominy into the mix, cooking it alongside the veal with flavorings somewhat reminiscent of posole. When I was done playing, the result fell into the realm of souped-up comfort food with vaguely southwestern flavors.
Despite the palette of spices, I used them pretty sparingly since I wanted to make sure to keep from overpowering the veal. I tried to have them just dance lightly, restraining my usual heavy hand. The whole thing slow roasted in the oven until it was tender and juicy. (Incidentally, I think this whole dish would also work really well with pork, if you don’t want to splurge on veal.)
Most roasted tomatillo sauce recipes that I looked to for guidance cooked their tomatillos at a much higher temp. My tomatillos had to share the oven with the slow roasting veal, so I worked around that in creating the sauce. To compensate, I started the sauce first, starting it at 375°F, then continued it alongside the veal at 325°F. All worked out well. Purple tomatillos are a little sweeter than green versions, and they have a nice tang. Since I had a mix, there was a balance of the two flavors and that struck a nice cord with the lightly spiced notes in the veal and hominy. For a deeper color, use all purple tomatillos–since I mixed the two, mine was a mauvy pink.
Since it was my birthday weekend, I wanted to open a good bottle. I love Riesling and this Domäne Wachau Riesling Smaragd Trocken Wachau Achleiten 2009 made a really nice pairing. It had considerable richness to stand up to the meat, and lovely ginger notes and a tang that worked well with both the spice notes and the light sweetness in the sauce.
I’m sure this dish would also work with reds, but I would stick to something with a bit of fruitiness in the light to medium body range—you don’t want to overpower the veal with something too heavy.
This recipe definitely made more sauce than the condiment quantities this dish called for. Later that week, the rest got an easy leftover makeover as topping for enchiladas. I rounded up all the veggies in my fridge (mostly root veggies in this case), combined them with some shredded chicken, rolled the filling in tortillas, smothered it in the sauce and a little cheese, then baked it all at 350°F until all warmed through–roughly 25 minutes. Did not feel like leftovers in the least. This Buzzerkely Sparkling Ale made a great match.
Roasted Mixed Tomatillo Salsa
2 pints mixed purple and green tomatillos, husked, washed and halved
½ onion, roughly chopped
1 medium green chile of mild to medium heat (like a banana pepper, Anaheim, or hatch), roughly chopped (seeds removed to your preference)
3 garlic cloves,
½ lemon, juiced
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Combine all ingredients in the a greased baking dish, drizzling lightly with the olive oil. Place in oven and cook for about 15 minutes. Drop oven temperature to 325°F and continue cooking until all vegetables are cooked through and some of the liquid has evaporated–at least another 10 minutes, but you can keep it in longer to concentrate further if desired.
3. Remove from oven and run sauce through a food processor or blender. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
Slow Roasted Veal Shoulder with Hominy
2.75 - 3 pound boneless veal shoulder
Pinch of coriander
Pinch of clove
Pinch of cumin
½ cup white wine (optional)
2 Tbsps butter
½ large onion, diced (about ¾ to 1 cup diced)
1 red pepper
2 to 3 garlic cloves, diced or crushed
1 (29 oz) can hominy, drained
¼ tsp pimentón ahumado (smoked paprika)
½ lemon, juiced
1 cup stock of choice (I used a combination of chicken and pork)
Green onions, sliced, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Lightly sprinkle the coriander, clove, cumin, and a generous pinch of salt Drizzle lightly with olive oil and rub the spice mixture into the meat. Roll and tie the veal.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add the veal and sear until nicely browned on all sides. Once browned, transfer the veal to a separate plate.
4. Return the pan to the stovetop and deglaze with wine. (Stock or water will work as well.) Add the butter and a little olive oil to the pan. Once butter has melted, add the diced onions and peppers to the pan, season with salt and sweat until all vegetables are soft and cooked through. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the hominy and a pinch of the pimenton. Stir to combine. Add the lemon juice, then gradually add the stock. Liquid should come about halfway up the hominy mixture–add more stock or water as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
5. Return the veal to pan, nestled in the hominy. Transfer the veal to the oven and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of between 140°-155°F for medium rare (150°F-155°F for medium), basting every 15 to 20 minutes. (Total cooking time will be about 90 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes depending on the size.)
6. Once the meat is cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes–the temperature will carry about 5 degrees to the final temperature. Meanwhile, taste and adjust the hominy seasoning, and lightly toss with green onions. Carve veal and serve with hominy and the tomatillo salsa on the side.