Recipe: Rubuh' (roast veal stuffed with spiced ground meat and rice)

Recipe: Rubuh' (roast veal stuffed with spiced ground meat and rice)
Allspice adds a distinctive touch to roast stuffed breast of veal. (Stephen Osman / LAT)
Total time: 3 1/2 to 4 hours

Servings: 8 to 10

Note: Adapted from Poopa Dweck's "Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews." Veal breast can be advance-ordered from better meat counters. Ask your butcher to make a pocket in the veal breast along the rib bones to accommodate the stuffing.

1/3 cup short-grain rice, such as Cal-Rose

1 pound ground beef

4 teaspoons allspice, divided

7 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, divided

1 1/2 cups chopped onion, divided

1 cup pine nuts

3 to 4 pounds veal breast, bone in, slit crosswise to form a pocket

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

4 stalks celery, including leaves, chopped

2 pounds frozen peas

1. Soak the rice in water to cover for 30 minutes, then drain. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the rice, beef, 1 teaspoon allspice, 2 tablespoons canola oil, the cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, one-fourth teaspoon white pepper, one-half cup onion and all of the pine nuts until thoroughly combined.

3. Loosely stuff the veal breast with this filling. Place any leftover stuffing onto the center of a large piece of parchment paper; fold the paper to seal in the stuffing and set it aside to tuck into the roasting pan next to the meat.

4. Combine the remaining 3 teaspoons allspice, 1 teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon white pepper and the garlic. Rub 1 tablespoon oil over the veal breast, season it with one-half teaspoon salt and generously apply the spice all over the veal.

5. In a large roaster over medium-high heat, sauté the remaining 1 cup onion and the celery in 2 tablespoons oil; stir occasionally until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

6. In the same large roaster, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sear the veal over medium-high heat until just lightly browned, 2 minutes per side. Add the onion-celery mixture to the pan under and around the veal along with the envelope of filling and 1 cup water. Cover and braise at 350 degrees, basting occasionally, for 1 hour.

7. Remove from the oven and add the peas to the roaster. Season with one-eighth teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon white pepper, or to taste.

8. Open the envelope of extra stuffing, break up the stuffing with a fork and stir the stuffing into the peas. Discard the parchment paper. Add one-half cup water to the roaster, cover and return to the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Roast for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours until tender. Remove to a large cutting board and allow to rest. Pull out any large bones and thinly slice the roast. Serve with the peas and stuffing alongside.

Each of 10 servings: 732 calories; 68 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 41 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 227 mg. cholesterol; 598 mg. sodium.