November 23, 2009

Blanquette de Veau

Let me begin this post by saying that I'm not a huge fan of veal. I just feel guilty about eating it.
And I'm not even going to touch the whole "politics of veal" subject...which these days seem to have been replaced by the politics of foie gras. Don't people care about the baby cows anymore?

Husband adores veal. He waxes lyrical about the Veal Milanese he used to enjoy in Italian restaurants in New York, so on the rare occasion that we go out to lunch and veal is on the menu, he always orders it.

Recently, I had moment of weakness.

Living in France changes the way you look at meat. Wild boar, frogs, gizzards, glands, feet, brains, hare, snails...all of it is celebrated and enjoyed with reckless abandon.
I also find that while waiting patiently in line at the butchers and watching what every one else is buying can be incredibly inspiring. I stand there and scroll through recipes in my head, imagining savory pots of bubbling Coq au Vin, rich Boeuf Bourguignon, rustic Cassoulet, garlic studded Gigot d'agneau...

So I'm at the butcher's one day and the price of nice looking, healthy-sized chunks of blanquette de veau was incredibly reasonable. I stared at them and stared at them, debating the purchase.
The line was long so I had plenty of time to argue with myself.

In the end I just gave in and bought a kilo.

And finally made Blanquette de Veau.

This recipe is my adaptation of Dilled Blanquette de Veau from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.
Dill is one of the few herbs that I absolutely cannot stand the taste of, but I liked the look of the recipes, so I 86'd the dill and added bay leaves and fresh thyme. And a bit of minced parsley sprinkled over at the end.

Blanquette de Veau
serves 6
  • 12 tbs (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3 pounds boneless veal, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 scant teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 fresh sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups diagonally sliced peeled carrots (sliced 1/8 inch thick)
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons freshly minced parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt 8 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy flameproof casserole or Dutch oven. Add the veal and cook over medium-low heat, turning frequently, until opaque but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir 3 tablespoons of the flour together with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, and sprinkle over the veal. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring, for 5 minutes. The flour and veal should not brown.
  4. Add the carrots, onions, thyme, bay leaves and enough stock to just cover the meat and vegetables. Raise the heat to medium and bring just to a boil. Then cover the casserole, transfer it to the oven, and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Remove the casserole from the oven and pour the stew through a strainer placed over a bowl. Reserve the solids and liquid separately, discarding the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
  6. Return the casserole to medium heat, and melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in it. Sprinkle in the remaining 5 tablespoons flour, and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 5 minutes.
  7. Whisk the reserved cooking liquid slowly into the butter and flour mixture, and bring to a simmer. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.
  8. Whisk in the cream and additional salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Return the veal and vegetables to the casserole, and simmer to heat through, about 5 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a deep serving dish, sprinkle with the minced parsley and serve at once.

Have to admit that even though I loved this dish -really loved it - I've yet to buy veal again. Stupid guilt.

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