Cooking in a Small Paris Apartment Kitchen

Photo from Sunday Roasts by Susie Cushner

The kitchen in the Paris apartment we rent is tiny without much counter space, but it does have a 4-burner gas cook top, a dishwasher, and a garbage disposal (a rarity here).
The oven is my real challenge. It measures only about 18 inches wide by 14 high and is not deep. Try roasting in it. There are no temperature settings, just numbers with French names accompanying the figures–5 is for “cake,” 6 and 7 are marked “white meat, veal, and soufflés,” while 8 says “flans,” and 9 indicates “red meat.” Go figure!
Over the decade that we have been staying in this Left Bank place, I’ve learned how to turn out successes from this “ovenette.”

  I packed an oven thermometer in my suitcase on a subsequent visit and placed it in the Paris oven so I could readily determine the temperature rather than sticking my hand in and guessing. Then I bought a French roasting pan that fits snugly into the space. And, after years of trying all sorts of recipes, I have discovered that all-in-one dishes work best in my French kitchen.

Veal Shanks Roasted in Red Wine with Tomatoes and Sage from Sunday Roasts is a perfect recipe to prepare here. I brown veal shanks and sauté vegetables on top of the stove, and add wine, stock, tomatoes, and herbs. Then the mixture is covered and put into the oven for a couple of hours. When done the meat is fork tender, literally falling off the bones, and the sauce rich and flavorful from the long and slow cooking.
Last week at a supper for friends, I served the roasted veal shanks and vegetables atop buttered fettuccine. They made a mouth-watering main course for six, and no one noticed that this dish had been cooked in a miniscule oven, not much bigger than a microwave!
Veal Shanks Roasted in Red Wine with Tomatoes and Sage
6 veal shanks, cut about 1 to 1-1/4-inch/2.5 to 3 cm thick (4 pounds/1.8 kg total)
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons/60 ml olive oil
4 cups/500 g chopped onions
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut on diagonal into slices 1/2-inch/12 mm thick
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
Two 28-ounce/795 g cans, Italian-style tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
4 teaspoons dried sage leaves (Use rubbed or crumbled sage, not powdered sage.)
2 bay leaves, broken in half
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
1 cup/240 ml dry red wine
1 to 1-1/4/455 to 570 g pounds fettuccine
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/gas 4.
2. Pat the veal shanks dry and season generously with salt on both sides. Heat the oil in an extra large, deep-sided frying pan (with a lid) over medium-high heat. (If you don’t have a large enough frying pan, use a large, flameproof roasting pan/tray and cover tightly with a double thickness of foil.) When the oil is hot, add the veal and brown well, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the veal to a platter. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic to the pan. Sauté the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Return the veal to the pan along with any juices that have collected on the platter. Add the tomatoes, sage, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, stock, and wine.
3. Bring this mixture to a simmer, then cover and place it in the oven. Roast until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours or more. (The veal can be prepared 2 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. The veal can also be frozen; defrost under refrigeration 1 day before needed. Reheat covered in a 350 degree F/180degrees C/gas 4 preheated oven until hot, about 25 minutes.)
4. When the veal has finished roasting, return the frying or roasting pan to the stove top and set over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered until the liquids have reduced and thickened slightly, 5 to 10 minutes or longer. Cover to keep warm while you prepare the pasta.
5. Cook the fettuccine in a large pot of boiling salted water until it is tender, about 5 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for dried. Drain, toss with butter, and season with salt to taste.
6. Mound the pasta on a serving platter and top with veal shanks. Nap both the veal and pasta with sauce and sprinkle with parsley.
Serves 6
Cost: Moderate
Prep time: 25 minutes
Start to finish time:  About 3 hours
From Sunday Roasts by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2011)

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