Blanquette de Veau

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Before I begin, I must correct myself.  When I posted about our Sunday dinner this past week, I spoke about the "lightness" in the meal.  It sounded as if I meant light in flavor.  But after one bite, it was clear that this dish was only "light" in one way and that was the color.  When one cooks a recipe once or twice over the course of a couple of years, the remembrance of that dish can sometimes fade.  Having said that, this dish will have a permanent flavor fixture in my mind, mouth and belly from now on.

Blanquette de Veau is a classic French stew of veal, onions and mushrooms (see it's light-- in color☺). It is simmered in a simple flavored sauce that is enriched with egg yolks and cream (there goes the lightness).  However, the lemon juice that helps finish the sauce does provide a bright, fresh flavor that keeps it from being overly heavy and rich.  With the addition of mushroom and onions, there is not much need of another vegetable, but I do like to serve it with glazed carrots, a side of potatoes, or a simple salad.  All you really need, though, is a good chunk of bread to sop up every bit of that delectable sauce.  I kid you not, this sauce makes shoe leather taste good!

As far as the recipe itself, you'll note that it calls for blanching the veal stew meat in water first.  Not a common cooking practice, but it is important.  Why?  When veal is simmered, it releases quite a bit of cooking "scum" that you will want to discard.  The rest of the recipe is just steps, all of which can be done in advance like most stews.  But when reheating, note that this is a delicate stew and you do not want it to even come to a simmer.  Otherwise the egg yolk liaison will curdle and the sauce will break.  You might think that such a low and slow, step-by-step cooking process isn't worth the wait but trust me,  it is.  Enjoying a glass of wine helps pass the time☺.

Printable Recipe

Blanquette de Veau (Veal Stew with Onions and Mushrooms)
serves 6

For the Veal
3 pounds veal stew meat, cut into 2-inch pieces
5 1/2 to 6 cups chicken stock
1 large onion, peeled and cut in half
1 large carrot, peeled and quartered
2 celery stalks, cut in half width wise
8 parsley sprigs
1 small bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Onions
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen white pearl onions, thawed
1/2 cup stock from the simmering veal
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh thyme

For the Sauce and Mushrooms
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
5 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/4 cups reserved veal cooking stock
24 to 30 fresh white button mushrooms
2 1/2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
2 Tablespoons chicken stock
3 extra large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the Veal
Place the veal in a large dutch-oven and cover with cold water by 2-inches.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for 2 minutes.  Drain the veal and rinse it rapidly under cold water to remove all traces of scum. Wash out the dutch-oven and return the meat to the pot.

Pour the stock over the veal to cover by 1/2-inch.  Bring to a simmer.  Meanwhile, tie the vegetables and herbs in a large square of cheesecloth and add to the simmering meat.  Taste for seasoning and lightly season if necessary.  Cover and simmer slowly for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until the veal is tender when pierced with a fork.  It should not be over cooked.

For the Onions
While the stew is simmering, prepare the onions. Place the onions in a large skillet with the stock, butter and thyme. Cover and simmer very slowly, rolling the onions in the saucepan occasionally, for 30-35 minutes.  The onions should not color, and should be tender yet retain their shape.  If the liquid evaporates during the simmering, add more by spoonfuls as necessary. Set aside.

When the veal is tender, pour the contents of the pot into a colander set over a large bowl.  Rinse out the pot, return the veal to the pot, and reserve the cooking liquid (add additional chicken stock if needed to measure 3 1/4 cups).  Arrange the cooked onions over the meat.

For the Sauce and Mushrooms
In a separate large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.  Once foaming subsides, add the flour and stir over low heat for two minutes until combined.  Take pan off the heat and add the reserved cooking liquid, beating vigorously with a wire whisk.  Return to the heat and bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  In a medium bowl, toss the mushroom caps with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.  Add the mushrooms to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes more. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Pour the sauce and mushrooms over the veal and onions.  Film the top of the sauce with the additional stock to prevent a skin from forming.  Set aside, partially covered. (May be done ahead to this point.)

About 10-15 minutes before serving, slowly reheat the stew to a simmer, basting the veal with the sauce.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream.  Beat in 1 cup of the hot sauce by spoonfuls to the cream mixture.  Pour the now tempered cream mixture into the pot, basting the veal and vegetables to blend the sauce.  Set over moderate heat, gently basting until the sauce has thickened slightly, but do not let it come to a simmer.  Serve from the casserole or on a platter and garnish with the parsley.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

1 comment:

  1. Love the bright, vibrant carrots with the "light" stew... beautiful :)


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