If you don’t like the flavour – yes, flavour – of veal, I suggest that you stop reading now. Because there is no way known that you are going to want to cook blanquette de veau!
As mentioned in a previous post, Maggie and I bought a whole vealer in 2012 and made several additions to our repertoire of veal dishes. That host of recipes numbered nine, to which we added a dish of veal meatballs a few months ago. Through this winter, we have begun a cull, in order to end up with a group of recipes which we will look forward to using year-in, year-out. Going by what we ate last night, blanquette de veau will definitely be one of the stayers.
We have tried two different recipes for this classic French dish. The first required a lot of fuss and bother that was not rewarded with an enjoyable result. Our second attempt was based on a recipe in Vogue French Cookery, published in the 1980s. It produced an elegant dish that passed the dinner party test. This week, we undertook a substantial makeover of the favoured version and this is the recipe that appears below.
800g boneless shoulder veal
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
white part of 1 leek, finely chopped
1 bouquet garni (bay leaf and srpigs of thyme and parsley wrapped in muslin)
1 cup veal stock and ½ cup water
½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp white pepper
150g button mushrooms, halved
1½ tbsp plain flour
1 egg yolk (optional, we don’t)
30ml cooking cream
2-3 tsp lemon juice (optional, we don’t)
- Cut the meat into cubes of about 2½cm. Melt 25g of butter in a heavy-based non-stick pan over moderate heat, and fry the meat in three batches until well coloured – about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a dish.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté for 10 minutes, tossing frequently, until glazed and tender.
- Meanwhile, melt 15g of butter in a flameproof casserole, add the carrot and leek and sauté for about 10 minutes.
- Add the bouquet garni, meat and mushrooms to the casserole, add the stock and water and bring to the boil. Place in an oven heated to 150C and bake for 30 minutes (reduce heat if liquid bubbles rapidly).
- Add salt and pepper, stir well and cook for another 25 minutes or until meat is tender. Remove from oven.
- Drain off the liquid and, if necessary, make it up to 400ml using water or stock. Discard the bouquet garni. Keep the meat and vegetables warm.
- To thicken the sauce, melt the remaining 25g of butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add the measured stock all at once, whisking briskly. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for several minutes, stirring gently. Whisk the cream and egg yolk together, stir in a little of the hot liquid then pour it into the saucepan, whisking all the time.
- Take the sauce off the heat, add lemon juice to taste, adjust the seasoning and pour the sauce into the casserole. Heat through gently but do not allow the sauce to boil (or it might curdle).
- If you would prefer to use less butter, complete steps 1 to 5 on one day, refrigerate overnight and, next day, remove the butter, which will have accumulated on the jellied surface of the dish. Use this butter in step 7 – it works just fine!
To prevent this post from becoming too-many-bytes-sized, I will follow it up with a separate post that contains photos of some of the steps in the method.