Little rattled Natalie Girbino. But if the butcher didn't slice her veal paper-thin, she became frazzled. "My grandmother was always a stickler about her veal," recalls granddaughter Michelle Venorsky. "It had to be thin enough to see through." Her late grandmother's expectations resonate each time Venorsky and her sister, Janene Vocaire, make veal spiedini during the holidays. Lined with painstakingly cut onion slices, Fontinella cheese and homemade breadcrumbs, the veal strips are rolled up tight, like a ball of socks. "If the veal is too thick, you can't roll it," Venorsky says. Toothpicks secure the thumb-sized wraps, which are dipped in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs, then fried in olive oil. The spiedini evokes fond memories of Venorsky's childhood, when her grandmother made them each year for the dozens of family members who would congregate for Christmas Eve dinner. "We were this loud, crazy Italian family that loved its food and wine. My grandmother loved her family and friends unconditionally and having them gather around her dinner table," Venorsky says. "Now my own daughters put on their aprons and help me when I'm making this dish, and I tell them stories about this amazing woman who was their great-grandmother."
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 2 pounds veal, cut paper-thin, roughly to the size of your hand
- 1/2 an onion, sliced into small slivers
- 1 /2 cup Fontinella cheese, diced
Take the veal and stuff with a slice or two of onion and a piece or two of cheese, plus a pinch of breadcrumbs. Note that you don't want to overstuff, but you don't want to add so little that you don't taste it.
Roll the veal tightly. It should be the size of your thumb. Secure the ends, if needed, with toothpicks.
Dip the veal lightly in the flour and eggs, and then roll in the breadcrumbs.
Fry in olive oil until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Remove the toothpicks. Sprinkle with grating cheese.