For reasons DonQui’s cannot quite comprehend, most Brits don’t eat veal. Many seem to have animal welfare issues associated with it. Despite campaigns by various celebratory chefs, British ‘Rose Veal’ has not really caught on even though the calves are raised normally — giving a pinkish tinge to the meat and hence the name.
Adding to the absurdity, Calves’ liver seems to sell well enough — probably because it is not marketed as ‘veal’. Many people who might be squeamish about eating baby cows seem happy enough to eat even younger lambs while avoiding older mutton.
Coupled with an export ban, the result of misguided animal welfare concerns is that each year in the UK hundreds of thousands of male dairy calves are simply killed at birth and incinerated as there is no British market and they cannot be exported. DonQui thinks that this is a shameful waste. Veal is better for us than beef and it lends itself to a delicious range of cooking methods. It is actually one of his favourite meats.
The following recipe is one of his favourites, matching tender veal with mushrooms, wine and cream — a classic combination. He does not always approach it in quite the same way but if you follow this basic recipe you can play around with it as you wish.
Stewing veal cut into chunks. DonQui got his in France where it iwas labelled as ‘Sauté de Veau’. As this recipe involves slow cooking you do not need the very best nor the leanest cuts.
Mushrooms, halved or roughly sliced.
Dry or medium-dry white wine
Veal or chicken stock
Thick cream or crème fraîche
Salt and ground white pepper to taste.
Butter and oil for frying
A little corn flour mixed with water (optional in case you want a thicker sacue)
Fry the mushrooms in butter and oil until they begin to colour and reduce. Take out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Brown off the veal chunks in the same pan, adding a little more butter and oil if necessary.
Add a good glass of white wine (DonQui apologises for never measuring). Deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits and then letting it reduce a little.
Add the stock (about the same amount as the wine), salt and pepper. Bring back up to the boil and then let it all simmer very gently, covered, for at least 1 1/2 hours or even longer. The idea is to cook it long and slow so that the meat starts to almost fall apart and all the flavour is imparted into the sauce. You could transfer it into a slow cooker if you wish. Be careful not to over-salt at this stage. A pinch will do. You can always add more later but much harder to take it out. Once the meat is beautifully tender you can leave it to finish off later.
Ten minutes before serving add the mushrooms you set aside earlier and let it all cook together for 5-10 minutes. Taste the sauce and maybe let it reduce a little to add greater depth of flavour. If you wish a thicker sauce then add the cornflour-water mixture and bring up to a gentle boil so that it thickens.
Then stir in a good dollop of cream and mix it in well on a low heat so it comes almost back up to the boil but not quite. If you cook it too vigorously at this stage the cream may separate.
Taste for seasoning then sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
DonQui likes this dish with noodles or rice. In this case he had it with egg tagliatelle with peas. The bright green peas add an appetising splash of colour. Carrots also go very well with the wine-cream sauce.