Egyptian fatta with veal shanks
4 baby veal shanks
1 onion (whole)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup Egyptian rice (washed, drained)
1 cup fresh tomato juice
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 baladi loaves (squared, drizzled with some olive oil)
Olive oil (to drizzle)
30 gm butter
Salt + pepper + small cinnamon stick + 4 cardamom pods + 2 bay leaves
Into a large pan with boiling water, add the whole, peeled onion. Add veal shanks. When froth collects on top, remove by a ladling spoon; until no more is collected. Add salt, pepper and herbs. Allow shanks to cook; over medium-high heat; until done. Remove away from heat. Remove shanks by means of a slotted spatula. In one layer; place them in an oven-proof dish, the base of which drizzled with some olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on top of shanks. Drizzle some olive oil. Cover and roast in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C; until golden and slightly crunched on top; (approximately 45 minutes). Place squares of baladi loaves in a baking tray and roast in the oven; aside of shanks. Remove when golden and leave aside. Meanwhile, cook the rice the usual fluffed way. Strain the broth. To make the sauce: Add butter into a small saucepan. When melted, stir in garlic until slightly golden. Add vinegar and tomato juice. Bring to a boil. Allow to cook; simmer to thicken and reduce. In a wide serving dish with sides around edges, add a layer of half the quantity of roasted bread squares. Then top with half the rice quantity. Add an amount of hot broth over both bread and rice; enough to soak only. Drizzle half the red sauce quantity on top. Repeat layers in the same order with remaining ingredients. Top with oven roasted shanks and serve immediately. Merry Egyptian Christmas everybody.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 6 January, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.