Expanding Our Culinary Chops

During one grocery shopping adventure we spotted breast of veal in the meat case. Russ mentioned he always wanted to cook one of those babies, so we bought it, and froze it for a future dinner. Encouraged by author Molly Steven’s cookbook notation in All About Braising “If you’ve never cooked or tasted a breast of veal, this is the place to start. The simple directness of the recipe brings out all the goodness this inexpensive cut has to offer.” Say no more…

The following photos of Breast of Veal Braised with Garlic, Parsley and Lemon tell a visual story of how gorgeous the meat looks during every stage of the cooking process. The taste was undeniably delicious, however I was not too thrilled about the amount of fat, in some portions, layered within the veal. Yes, you can remove it, but it’s something I’d rather not have to contend with. C’est la vie.

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Browning both sides in shimmering oil.

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The end cap gets browned by holding the breast with tongs.

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Once browned, the meat is moved to a plater where juices will collect.

About that sauce. You can purchase the veal stock, or demi-glace, at the supermarket, usually sold in the meat counter. Demi-glace is one of the rich brown sauces from classic French cuisine, made by simmering bones, aromatics and wine for days, which extracts the gelatin from the bones, concentrates the flavors and thickens the sauce.

D’Artagnan (our choice) offers a classic veal demi-glace made according to traditional methods, beginning with the bone stock, which is slowly simmered until reduced by about half its volume. The liquid is strained, then red wine is added, and finally, a little tomato paste is stirred in. No additional gelatin is needed because the bones are rich in natural collagen. Nor is any salt or flour added. The result is a very concentrated stock that can be used as a base for other sauces, or by itself.

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Mashing garlic cloves and salt with pestle and mortar.

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Adding parsley and lemon zest to the garlic paste.

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Smear the garlic-parsley mixture all over the veal; pushing the seasoning into folds and crevices; then set the veal into a heavy lidded casserole and pour over any juices.

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After 2 hours the veal is braised uncovered for another 30 minutes.

The process from start to finish takes about 4 hours, so plan accordingly. Instead of using both a skillet and heavy-duty casserole as described in the directions, we just used the casserole pot from the get-go. One less item to clean, in our humble opinion.

Our sides included Butter Braised Radishes—something we’ve never tried before—and Mashed Parsnips—a dish we recently tried and fell head-over-heels for! (See blog on mashed parsnips under the Bits N Pieces tab.) Now back to the star of the show…

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Once the veal is fully cooked, set it aside to cool somewhat. Gorgeous!

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With your hands, tug on the rib bones extending from the meat until they come loose, and feel around for any cartilage that may be present, wriggling and tugging until they come free.

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Set the veal (whole or sliced) into a shallow baking or ovenproof serving dish and pour over the degreased pan juices.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 lb. bone-in breast of veal
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
  • 1 cup veal stock, homemade or store bought

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy skillet large enough to hold the veal comfortably, over medium heat until it shimmers.
  3. Pat the veal dry with paper towels, and lower into skillet with tongs.
  4. Cook turning once until meat has a deep roasted appearance on both sides, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter to collect any juices that seep out, and let cool slightly.
  5. Discard fat from skillet and wipe out any charred bits with a damp paper towel, being careful not to dislodge the precious caramelized drippings. Set skillet aside.
  6. To make the garlic paste, drop the cloves into a mortar, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, and smash and grind into a paste. Transfer to a small bowl and add the parsley, lemon zest, and a few grinds of black pepper.
  7. When the veal is cool enough to handle, use your fingers to smear the garlic-parsley mixture all over it; pushing the seasoning into folds and crevices as deep as you can without tearing the meat apart.
  8. Set veal into a heavy lidded casserole (3-4 quart), and pour over any juices that seeped from the veal.
  9. Return skillet to high heat and add the wine. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to dislodge and flavorful bits stuck there, and reduce down to about a 1/3 cup, about 8 minutes.
  10. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes. Pour this liquid around the breast of veal—but not directly over the meat. Cover with parchment paper, pressing down so the paper nearly touches the veal and the edges hang about an inch over the sides of the pot. Set the lid in place.
  11. Slide the pot into the lower part of the oven to braise at a gentle simmer. After about 15 minutes, check to see that the liquid is not simmering too vigorously. if it is, reduce the oven by 10-15 degrees. Continue to braise gently for another 15 minutes more, then, using tongs, turn the veal over.
  12. After 2 hours, turn the veal again, more carefully this time as the meat may be starting to fall off the bone.
  13. Continue to braise, uncovered, so that the surface can caramelize, until the veal is completely tender, about 30 minutes more (2 1/2 hours total.)
  14. Remove the veal from the pot onto a platter or cutting board with a moat to catch the juices.Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Turn the oven up to 325 degrees.
  15. With your hands, tug on the rib bones extending from the meat until they come loose. Discard. Feel around the veal for any cartilage that may be present, wriggling and tugging until they come free. You may have to pull the meat apart in a few places, but don’t worry.
  16. Degrease the pan juices as best you can, and taste for salt and pepper. There are two options for serving: carve the breast of veal in the kitchen, and then warm the pieces; or warm the whole glorious thing, present it at the table, and make a ceremony out of carving it!
  17. Which ever way you choose, it’s best to cut the breast into rustic hunks instead of neat slices. Set the veal (whole or sliced) into a shallow baking or ovenproof serving dish and pour over the degreased pan juices. Heat until warmed through, 15 to 25 minutes.

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