This months issue of Food and Wine has a some great pasta recipes in it.  One that sparked my interest was Orecchiette with Veal Capers and White Wine.  Orecchiette is the pasta that looks like little ears.  Unfortunately no store around me has this type of pasta.  Further, I am not the biggest fan of capers.  I had a bad experience with them once at a wedding reception and it has pretty much ruined them for me.  I know that I should try them again, but it was horrible.  After a little tweaking I think it is an amazing dish.

Shells with Veal and White Wine
Shells with Veal and White Wine

Substituting shell pasta for the Orecchiette gives a similar texture that holds on to the meat.

Shells with Veal and White Wine – (adapted from January 2010 issue of Food and Wine)

  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3/4 – 1 lb medium shell pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.  Roughly 5 minutes.  Once the softened add the veal along with some salt and pepper.  Cook until the veal is no longer pink in the center.  About 8-10 minutes.

Add the veal.  Break it up and cook until no longer pink.
Add the veal. Break it up and cook until no longer pink.

Once the meat is cooked, add the white wine and bring to a boil.  Continue to boil until the wine is almost evaporated.  Then add the chicken stock, thyme and rosemary.  Turn the burner to medium/low heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.

Let the sauce reduce by half
Let the sauce reduce by half

While the liquid is reducing, cook the shell pasta in a large pot of salted water until it is al dente.  Make sure not to overcook the pasta as it is going to have a little more cooking time.  You don’t want it to fall apart.

When the pasta is cooked and the liquid in the sauce is reduced, add the drained pasta along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, chopped parsley and the butter.  Cook over medium/low heat until the sauce is thick and creamy.  Roughly 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the cheese to the pasta and sauce
Add the cheese to the pasta and sauce

Serve warm with a side of bread.

Grate on some cheese and enjoy!!
Grate on some cheese and enjoy!!

This pasta is hearty and delicious.  The shell pasta picks up the sauce and the meat.  Just a great combination.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. Hmmm, mouth watering, I have NEVER tried veal in my life and the main reason is because I have never wanted to eat it on it's own. However, I LOVE pasta and I want to try veal so this is the idea opportunity to get cooking.

    Thank you for this.


  2. "I had a bad experience with them once at a wedding reception" It didn't involve too much alcohol and a tryst in the coat room, did it? (ha!)

    Looks phenomenally good. I bet that would be perfect after getting in from work on a blustery cold day.

    • No Tryst in the coat room, but a lot of alcohol was consumed. They served baked chicken coated in capers. Like 100 on the plate. It was horrible. The taste was so intense that I have been unable to eat them since.

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