Recipe: Tuscan-style veal stew

One of my first veal experiences was on the seafront in Cannes in the South of France. I ordered Veal Milanese, lightly breaded veal escalopes served with spaghetti in tomato sauce, on the recommendation of my husband. I have to say I was a bit dubious but fell in love with the dish within my first few mouthfuls. Since then I’ve ordered it all over the world and even made it myself dozens of times.

I love the delicate flavour of veal and its lovely texture. And as I’m still struggling to come to terms with the transition from South African autumn to English spring (no prizes for guessing which is colder and rainier), I had a mind to tuck into a hearty stew.

This dish has only a few ingredients and is really quick to prepare. Just make sure you cook it slowly for around 2 hours to infuse all the flavours and for the meat to be truly tender.

It was the first time I’d made polenta in a long while and reminded me of how much I love it. It’s so easy to make and tasted great infused with thyme flavours and combined with the rich tomato sauce. A recipe well worth trying. Of course if you don’t eat veal (for whatever reason), you could use beef or lamb instead.

Serves 4

Tender veal, rich herby tomato sauce and creamy polenta

500g veal, cut into bite sized chunks

2 tbsps olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1x400g tin of chopped tomatoes

100ml white wine

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

3 tsps dried thyme

100g quick polenta

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan to a medium-high heat and fry the veal in batches to seal and brown slightly.

Remove from the pan and put aside.

Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes until softened. Add the rosemary, 2 tsps of the thyme, tomatoes and white wine and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes and then return the meat to the casserole.

Cover and turn the stove down to its lowest possible temperature. Make sure to check on it every half an hour or so to make sure it’s not bubbling too furiously or drying up. Adjust the temperature or add a dash of water if you need to. Cook for approximately two ho urs.

Just before it’s ready, cook the quick polenta and/or the vegetables. Peas and carrots work well.

Stir the remaining 1 tsp of thyme through the finished polenta as well as a good drizzle of olive oil

Serve immediately

The veal stew served with carrots and peas
Simmering slowly on the stove top



  1. Mmmm, that sounds good. I still remember the veal chops from Jimmie Beattie’s in Gatooma which we used to have. It was my first introduction to veal and I have not tasted any so good since! I will have to ask my local butcher if he supplies veal. He does amazing local lamb (although I have bought one and a half lambs from a farmer up the hill which are in the freezer) and also delicious, and very reasonable, Welsh Black beef.

  2. Michelle, Jimmie Beattie’s was one of the best butcheries ever! Mom and I were talking the other day about his amazing beef and how good his biltong was, I don’t think I’ve tasted better. This stew would work really well with lamb too, sounds like you have plenty of lamb stocks. I envy you being able to buy straight from the local farmer. Try it with lamb and let me know how it turns out.

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