Veal Braised with Xinomavro and Prunes
One of the most intoxicating braises in the region, this is a perfect winter or cool-weath-er dish that harks back to the time when plum trees, especially the tart cherry plum called koromilo in Greek, was an integral part of the local flora.
- 1 kilo (2 lbs.) veal shoulder, trimmed and cut into stewing pieces
- 2 Β½ cups Xinomavro wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin northern Greek olive oil
- 1 kilo (2 lbs.) small onions, peeled and whole
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6 - 8 prunes, pitted, to taste
- 6 - 8 dried cherry plums
- 3 - 4 Tbs. red wine vinegar, to taste
Place meat in a bowl. Pour in the wine, one bay leaf, three garlic cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate, refrigerated, for 3 to 8 hours. Remove meat from marinade. Pat dry with paper towels. Heat the olive oil in a large stewing pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions to the pot, cover, and, over medium heat, steam in the oil until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Return the meat to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and add the remaining garlic, bay leaf and marinade, strained.
Cover and simmer over very low heat until the meat is very tender, about 1 Β½ to 2 hours. Add water during cooking if necessary to keep the stew from burning. Add the prunes and dried cherry plums and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes or so. About 5 minutes before removing from the heat, adjust seasoning with the vinegar and additional salt and pepper to taste. No second thoughts. Open a Naoussa immediately!