This is my mother’s lemonato, the best I have tasted. Although this dish is commonly cooked at home all over Greece, it is rarely included in cookbooks. American veal is different from ours, in that comes from free range animals and, although very tasty, is tough and requires a special cooking method. I have adapted my mother’s recipe for the American and European veal. One of my aunts used to cook the meat with no other liquid but lemon juice, and her version was also delicious. But it had very little syrupy sauce—not enough for cooking the potatoes. I think this is a great disadvantage, because the potatoes are the best part oflemonato. In any case, the secret of this dish’s success is to keep the heat very low and to simmer the veal for hours.
2 large onions, sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 pounds boneless veal round or shank, in a tied rolled roast
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or water, or more as needed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound medium potatoes, quartered
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
In a heavy non-stick pan—one that holds the meat snugly—sauté the onions in most of the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the veal and brown on all sides. Pour in the wine, bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, then add the stock or water, sugar, lemon juice, and garlic. Simmer for 45 minutes, turning the meat and adding more stock or water if needed. The sauce should cover the meat by two-thirds.
While the veal is simmering, heat the remaining small amount of oil in a heavy skillet and fry the potatoes until they are golden brown. Don’t worry about cooking them through—they will finish cooking with the veal.
Remove the meat from the pan and carefully slice it. Return the meat slices to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and continue simmering for another 40 minutes, adding a little stock or water if needed.
Add the potatoes to the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the veal is very tender and potatoes are soft. Serve hot.
Note: You can cook boned lamb shank using the same method.