Cooking in Tante Nati’s kitchen

I’ve decided to try to cook a German meal every week - or at least two times per month. I recently visited my godmother, Renate and her husband Eberhard at the foot of the Bavarian Alps in Germany.  I’ve called her Tante Nati since I was young, I think when I was a small child I couldn’t pronounce Renate very well.  Sitting in her kitchen while she cooked reminded me how much I love this food and that I need to try different German recipes more than a few times a year.  

Danielle & Tante Nati

Danielle & Tante Nati

Tante Nati is a great cook and like many of us, she learned to cook from her mother, my great aunt Tante Mimi, her actual name was Maria.  Tante Mimi I remember for her woollen underwear that she used to send to my brother and me every year at Christmas and her potato pancakes.  She had a low voice and a cackle laugh and she made a mean potato pancake that I have never been able to beat.  I think it has to do with the potatoes and the fat that she used.  It’s hard to duplicate the taste of German potatoes and who questions the fat that people used to use.  It is true, German food is hearty and can be heavy, but so satisfying, rich and delicious.  I don’t need to make this food every day just once in a while and most importantly, this food reminds me of a place I wish I could be in more often -  in Tante Nati’s kitchen.

This is a special meal, something for company or Sunday dinner. It is special because veal shank left whole is most likely something we need to special order from our butcher and while this preparation is actually very easy, the meal when presented to the table, feels more luxurious than the average weekday menu.


Kalbshaxe in tomato sauce


1.2 kilo + 1.5 kilo of veal shank left whole or in two or three pieces (but not cut into slices like for Osso Bucco).
4 large cloves of garlic grated or put through a garlic press
salt and coarse pepper
2 tins ofg of diced tomatoes. 
Fresh parsley or basil leaves - about 1/4 cup.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the meat: Take the film of skin off the veal if it has not been done so by the butcher.  Rub the meat with salt and pepper and the garlic cloves. 

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Prepare a dutch oven on the top of the stove.  Heat the pot slightly and add the oil.  Once heated the oil is hot but not smoking, add the meat and brown well on all sides about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes. Spoon the tomatoes over the sauce.  Cover the pot and put in the bottom rack of the oven.  

After 1 hour, carefully take the lid off - do not burn your fingers while lifting the lid -  and try the sauce. Check for seasoning and put the cover back on for 30 minutes.  The meat should be tender and be loose off the bone.  Remove the pot, and let the meat sit for 10 minutes.  On a cutting board, cut the meat into pieces and put into a warmed serving pan.  Add the tomato sauce and serve. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or basil if you wish before serving.