December 18, 2017

Veal stew with Moscato and fennel

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“Hi Jonathan,  I am interested in cooking some beef in a slow cooker, but the only time I’ve ever done it before the beef came out dry and leathery.” – Robin From Astoria

Robin, this one’s for you.  Veal stew with Moscato and fennel comes from a classic spring time recipe in Italy.  This specific dish is an amalgam of recipes and ideas from Chef Judy Witts, Butcher Dario Cecchini and myself.  Both Judy and Dario have been an inspiration for my cooking and way of life. 

The traditional recipe calls for Vin santo, a sweet dessert wine available everywhere in Italy but unfortunately not everywhere or all the time here in America.  While shopping for this dish I could not find one bottle of Vin santo and I looked in four wine shops. Instead I picked up a bottle of Moscato.  A less sweet, cheaper and more readily available sweet wine.

Veal stew with Moscato and fennel (slow cooker recipe)

Layered into a slow cooker (from bottom up)

  • Fennel bulbs sliced thin (6 cups).  Save fennel fronds for garnish.
  • Pearl onions 16oz bag frozen
  • New potatoes 2 lbs. cut in half
  • Cheese cloth, bundle and tied, with 1.5 tablespoon black peppercorns and 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Veal shoulder (2″ cubes) 2.5 lbs.
  • OPTIONAL veal marrow bones 1-1.5 lbs.
  • Kosher salt 1.5 tablespoon
  • Moscato wine 750 mil (1 full bottle)
  • Water to bring liquid level in slow cooker up to the 3/4 mark.


  • Peas 1lb (frozen or fresh).  ADDED 30 minutes before serving.

Set slow cooker to low heat / ten hours OR High high / 4.5 hours.  When dish is done, test for salt and add the peas.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with reserved fennel fronds.



  1. Jenny in Astoria says:

    Robin may have asked for this, but I also plan on making it ASAP. thank you!

  2. Update: Cheese cloth is a thin mesh type cloth sold at supermarkets. It is often used to create a satchel for herbs and spices. In this case the satchel keeps the peppercorns and fresh thyme together and easily removable from the stew. No one wants to bite into a hard peppercorn, right? You can also think of it as a homemade tea bag.

  3. Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks for the recipe! I now have to head on over to the butcher and get some veal. I really like the idea of adding the bones as well. By the way I’m really not familiar with fennel. Is it like an onion, or a leek?
    Oh yeah, and thanks for the recommendation for the slow cooker, I tried out cooking a chicken in it the other day and it was beautiful and moist.

    • Hey Robin. Thank you for the reply.

      Fennel is a bulbous green vegetable. A licorice flavor. Mainly used in the Middle East and Italy. Gaining momentum in America. Adds a brightness to many dishes. I will post about it soon.

      Please let us know how the veal stew turns out and keep the questions coming.

  4. Thank you Jonathan!
    I finally got round to making the stew and it was great.
    I think you’ve turned me on to using fennel – the flavor was light, fragrant and delicious. The veal came out perfect, melted in the mouth. I liked the overall flavor, after I added more salt (I didn’t put much in when it was cooking) just to bring it out more. When I first started eating I thought it was too light, but then the subtle flavors flooded out and it was perfect.
    The broth reminded me of Japan, which is interesting since the ingredients were not particularly ‘japanese’ at all.
    Thanks again for the recipe!

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