- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2006

There’s a good reason chili is the unofficial food of Super Bowl viewers. It’s indestructible.

If you’re a fan of the annual orgy of football, you know how difficult it is to tear yourself from the television screen. With chili simmering on the burner, you don’t have to run into the kitchen to tend to a meal while a crucial play or a scintillating commercial break is going on.

If you’re getting tired of the same bowl of red every year, it’s time for a new game plan. Combine those essential chili ingredients of meat, tomatoes and spices in a delicious stew.

Like chili, stew can bend to your schedule. You can prepare the dish a day in advance and serve it whenever you like. Or you can let stew slowly develop its full flavors over the lowest heat while you are bubbling over, depending on your team’s performance.

Although stew is usually a big batch recipe, the following veal stew makes just enough for two energized football fans. The dish is inspired by a recipe for almond-thickened veal stew from the cookbook “Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen” (Scribner). You can improvise further by substituting pork tenderloin or even boneless chicken thighs for the veal.

Serve Southwestern veal stew with beer (or cider), coleslaw and brownies.

Southwestern veal stew

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons flour

teaspoon salt, divided

teaspoon pepper, divided

12 ounces veal stew meat

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup chicken broth

1 small sweet potato, peeled, cut into small dice, optional

2 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon dried, crushed oregano

1/4 cup raisins

8 large smashed green olives (see Note)

1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1 cup cooked rice

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Heat oil in medium, heavy-bottomed skillet. Place flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a plastic bag. Add veal and shake well to coat; reserve any remaining flour mixture. Brown veal in hot oil over medium heat, turning to brown all sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove and set aside. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook at medium heat for 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir reserved flour into skillet and mix to blend into oil. Pour in chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits. Cook over medium-high heat stirring until thickened, about 1 to 3 minutes.

Return veal to skillet. Add sweet potato, if desired, with tomatoes, cinnamon, oregano, raisins, olives and pepper flakes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over rice and sprinkle with almonds.

Makes 2 servings.

Note: If desired, substitute pork tenderloin. Some gourmet supermarkets sell smashed green olives. If you can’t find them, smash olives with a meat tenderizer or the bottom of a skillet. If desired, remove pits.


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