It was a good one, wasn’t it? I hope so. Lots of feasting and fun and family. Possibly majoring on the feasting but hey, that’s Christmas. And what is our collective reward for all this? To emerge from our Christmas cocoons back into the big wide world and face a barrage of dietary finger-wagging from the very people who urged us to go bananas on the baking to start with. Well, no thank you. Not for me. I shall not be spending one of the darkest, most miserable months of the year in sensory purgatory.
I absolutely go along with the idea that after all that excess it’s a good idea to rein it in a little. Maybe more than a little. But I don’t see how hobbling through a month of dreary abstinence is going to cheer anyone up or make us healthier long-term. The start of the new year should be an opportunity to embrace ways of living and eating that will last beyond the first 31 days – and for me that is about balance. Balancing days of the super-healthy stuff with hearty (and nutritious) meals that warm the soul as well as the stomach. Allowing yourself to enjoy the kinds of dishes which call for the uncorking of good conversation as their accompaniment.
This roasted veal is one of those. It’s a straightforward, heart-and-hearth-warming one-pot cook where all the flavours snuggle in together. Please try to maintain your ethical high ground by using rose veal instead of white. If you can’t lay your hands on that, then pork loin would be an excellent substitute. I can’t over-stress the importance of letting it all rest at the end before diving in – that’s how you get the potatoes to be so fabulously sticky. It’s a very January period of self-restraint.
STICKY ROASTED VEAL Serves 4
1.5kg piece of rose veal loin
1kg potatoes – cut into big chunks skins still on. Firm, waxy ones ideally. 5 tbsps olive oil
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic – unskinned
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
a quarter of a lemon
Choose your one-pot with care. I go for a shallow casserole. A baking or roasting dish would do fine too – the main thing is that once everything is in it’s kept quite tightly compact.
Preheat the oven to 220C.
- Season the veal by rubbing it all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsps of the olive oil in the shallow casserole (or whatever you are using) on the hob. Once it’s nice and hot put the veal in and let it get brown all over. Be quite quick about it as you just want to seal / sear the meat rather than cook it. Now take it off the heat and push the veal into the centre of the dish.
- Scatter the potato pieces all around the meat, rolling them in the oil/juices as you go. Push the garlic, bay, thyme and rosemary around the spuds. Give them a good squeeze of lemon, then the rest of the olive oil and finish off with some salt and pepper.
- Cook in the oven (uncovered) for 20 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 200C and continue for 25 minutes for each 500g of meat. Twice during the cooking time give the potatoes a stir around.
- Once done, take the dish out of the oven and cover with its lid or tightly with tin foil. Now leave it be for 10-15 minutes for the flavours to settle and the potatoes to get good and sticky.
Serve with good company and plenty of chillied /garlic’d green beans or broccoli.
Angela Clutton is writing a book about all kinds of ways of living and doing things that have been passed down through generations. For more information, visit her website.