Mild, sweet, tender veal is a tasty choice for an Easter or Passover dinner

Mild, sweet, tender veal is a tasty choice for Easter or Passover

Too many people mistake spending lots of time in the kitchen with serving an enjoyable holiday meal.

Sure, you want to cook something special for an occasion like Passover or Easter. But that's no reason to slave over the stove.

That's why I want to share with you one of my favorite old central European recipes for a main dish that tastes extra-special but can be made with incredible ease:

Spicy Braised Veal with Rice, or simply Reisfleisch (rice-meat) as we called it in Austria.

Mild, sweet, tender veal is a wonderful meat to serve for a springtime dinner.

In all of my restaurants, we've used only free-range veal for many years, in our commitment to sourcing all of our meats, poultry, and seafood from humane, environmentally responsible producers -- a practice that I'm happy to see more and more restaurants following.

Many people think, of course, that veal is expensive, being used to seeing the prized veal chops or cutlets with astronomical prices at the butcher counter or on restaurant menus. But the good thing about this particular recipe is that it features a less expensive, tougher cut not usually found in restaurants: the shoulder, which turns extra tender and juicy when it is cut up into small pieces and gently simmered, as it is here.

(The recipe also works well with boneless veal leg meat.)

Like many braises and stews, this veal dish will also taste even better with reheating. That means you can prepare the recipe as long as two days ahead of time up to the point at which you've browned the veal, deglazed the pan, and brought the cooking liquid together with all of the seasonings. Then, simply let the liquid and the veal cool and refrigerate them separately in covered containers. The next day, about half an hour before serving time, bring the liquid back to a boil in a saucepan, reduce the heat to a simmer, add the veal and rice, and cook gently, covered, until the rice is almost tender before adding the final ingredients and completing the cooking as directed.

Of course, you don't have to save this dish to offer your Easter or Passover guests. It's delicious for any occasion. If you'd like to try serving it the way Austrians traditionally eat it, simply accompany it with a salad of butter lettuce (also known as Boston or Bibb) leaves dressed with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and a little pumpkin seed oil, which you can find in specialty food stores.

However you serve it, everyone will acclaim you for the time and effort you put into cooking a great meal. And there's no need to tell them that it took practically no time at all.

Spicy Braised Veal with Rice Recipe

Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 pounds organic boneless veal shoulder, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 cups organic beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked organic long-grain rice
  • 2 organic red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and diced
  • 6 cornichons (small French-style pickled cucumbers), coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh chives

Recipe Directions

With a sharp knife, cut the veal into thin slices about 1/8 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches wide.

Heat a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, sear the veal all over for 2 to 3 minutes, transferring the pieces to a bowl as they are browned.

Add the onions to the pan and saute, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the broth and stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan deposits. Stir in the paprika, cumin, garlic, and bay leaf. Season to taste with cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper.

When the liquid comes to a boil, return the veal to the pan, add the rice, cover the pan, and cook over low heat until the rice is almost done, about 20 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper and cornichons and continue cooking until both the rice and meat are tender, about 5 minutes more.

To serve, spoon the mixture of veal and rice onto heated serving plates and garnish with fresh herbs.


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