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Apr 27, 2009

Chef’s Notes: Veal

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Download this Veal Cooking Guide for even more information.

The most common recipes for veal involve traditional applications of veal cutlets, chops or shanks, but it is easy to move past these items to serve innovative veal dishes.

Veal takes well to ingredients that introduce salt, acid and bitterness, such as salted capers, lemon or preserved lemon, anchovy, fresh tomato, olives, artichokes and prosciutto or crispy pancetta. Mediterranean herbs work well too – sage, bay leaf, rosemary and marjoram.

Veal cutlets, pounded thin and lightly dusted with flour, can be sautéed with white wine, lemon, marjoram and chanterelle mushrooms. Veal shanks braise well in white wine, bay leaf and fresh tomato, afterwards served in their cooking juices and topped with a gremolata of lemon zest, chopped Italian parsley and extra virgin olive oil. Veal chops are excellent marinated with anchovy, kalamata olives and rosemary, then grilled.

Veal Briskets yield High Margins

One of the more cost-effective veal cuts for the foodservice chef is the brisket.  Here are some great veal brisket recipes:

Wild Mushroom Braised Veal Brisket over Gorgonzola Polenta & Braised Greens

Separate brisket plate from deckle. Remove all excess fat. Cut into 8oz. pieces. Sear until caramelized. Set aside.

Sauté 2 large carrots, 6 stalks celery, 1 large Spanish onion and 6 cloves of garlic over medium heat scraping bottom of pan until tender. Deglaze with white wine. Reduce white wine until practically gone. Add 2 gallons of veal stock or 1 gallon veal demi glaze & 1 gallon of water. Add 2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms & return veal brisket to pan.

Bring to boil then turn down and simmer for 3-4 hours. When meat is tender, remove, then reduce broth to rich sauce (consistency should coat back of spoon). When sauce is ready, strain and return meat. This will prevent from drying.

Make polenta to your liking. Add crumbled artisanal blue cheese over polenta to taste. Preheat individual portion of veal brisket in sauce, adding fresh wild mushrooms of your choice. Braise greens such as chard or escarole with garlic. Place on plate next to polenta. Slice brisket and place it over top nape’ with sauce.

Slow Roasted Veal Brisket with Parmesan Risotto & Spinach

Season veal brisket generously with salt, pepper and 2 sprigs of your choice of herb per piece. Individually wrap in aluminum foil. Put on sheet tray and put in preheated 300-degree oven for 3 hours. Remove from oven and let rest in aluminum for at least 30 minutes. Drain juice from inside the aluminum foil into sauce pan and add demi glaze. Reduce to sauce consistency.

Precook Risotto Reserve. Bring cream to simmer, add risotto and handful of Parmesan cheese. Cook until tender, adjust seasoning. Bring enough sauce for 1 portion to simmer in saucepan. Slice veal brisket against the grain scraping off excess fat. Add to sauce to reheat. Sauté spinach and assemble plate.

Veal Brisket and Grits

Ed Matthews, Owner and Executive Chef at One Block West, knows how to turn a low-food-cost item into a delectable profit center. Check out his recipe below and others on his blog.

For 20-24 portions: 4 Le Québécois veal point end briskets (about 16 pounds); vegetable oil; 1-1/2 cups duck fat*, oil, or other fat; 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour; 4 poblano* chiles, diced; 2 large yellow onions, diced; 1 bunch green onions, sliced; 6 stalks celery, diced; 6 tablespoons garlic, minced; 4 T Cajun spice mix*; 1/2 #10 can diced tomatoes with juice; water; salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a braising pan over high flame, film with vegetable oil, and sear hard both sides of each brisket, being careful not to burn the fond. Remove briskets from pan. Add the oil, duck fat, or bacon grease and bring to temperature. Add the flour and stir frequently to form a medium brown roux. Add the vegetables to the pan to stop the roux from cooking and stir well for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and spice mix and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and mix well, then the briskets, and enough water to come about half way up the briskets. Cover and braise until tender, 4-6 hours. Remove meat to a hotel pan and chill. Defat the gravy and season to taste. Reserve gravy for service.

Slice a portion of veal (three slices about 3/8″ thick, about 8 ounces) across the grain. Reheat 4 ounces of reserved gravy and the veal in a sauté pan. Finish in a hot oven, turning the veal once, until everything is hot. Mound grits in the well of large soup plate. Place veal and gravy over. Garnish as desired.

Ed’s Notes: Roux in Cajun home cooking is made from whatever fat happens to be on hand. If you process as much duck at your restaurant as we do here, you have buckets of duck fat on hand at any time. Duck fat gives the roux great depth of flavor.

Poblano chiles are not traditional in Cajun and Creole cooking; Bell peppers are. To me, bell peppers have an assertive vegetal flavor that I don’t really care for and I find that they bring out the absolute worst qualities in a wine. I’m also convinced that if the Acadians had had Poblanos, they would have used them in preference to Bell peppers.

Cajun spice mix is ubiquitous: you can find it anywhere. Years ago, I used to make a unique blend for each specific dish, but now as a time saver, we make 5-pound batches of a blend that I’ve been tweaking for 10 years. Use whatever you feel like.

Other Veal Recipes

For other suggestions for using grain-fed veal, Le Québécois offers a collection of grain-fed veal recipes covering most cuts on their website

Veal Wine Pairings

Although veal is a red meat, its lightness and leanness make it an excellent match for white wines and lighter, more acidic reds. If you are serving veal prepared with white wine and anchovy or lemon, choose a full white like a Soave or Vin de Savoie. If you have added chanterelle mushrooms to the sauté, or are serving grilled veal chops or veal shanks braised in tomato, go for a red such as Nebbiolo, Gamay Noir or Zweigelt, a medium-bodied red wine from Austria.

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