From Cradle to PLATE

I woke up this weekend feeling as if Mother Nature was ticked off at me for mocking the lack of cool autumn temperatures. I mean, enough is enough already with the 50 degree temps. Maybe once a year, in February, would be sufficient, but not October!

However, the cool temps led me to wax poetic on the subject of seasonally specific food, and in this case it’s veal I crave. Veal that I desire, lust for, fantasize about, thirst for. Succulent, tender, rich, delicate, AWESOME!

I view veal as the king of meats. The supple texture and the sweet succulent flavor are unmatched in other domestic meats. And like anything in the world that’s really wonderful, the consumption of veal is controversial. But I don’t care. Go ahead: Avoid veal, shun veal and insult veal. That just leaves more for me.

When my oldest daughter was a wee lass, I accompanied her on a kindergarten field trip to a farm. It was a fall hayride and I was the only man among a gaggle of mothers (chefs are off on weekdays). As the tractor brought us into the main field, we saw a bunch of cows with their calves. All the children became very excited and began to point out the calves and exclaim “look at the baby cows!” — all except the chef’s daughter, who cried “look at the veal!” The silly mothers were horrified. Yet I had never been more proud of my child!

Each section of the calf is unique and offers exciting opportunities to show off those mad cooking skills. Probably the most common cut is the leg or round section. This is where we get the famous veal scaloppini, with its unlimited pan sauce possibilities. The shanks, when treated with tenderness and respect, transform into breathtakingly tender and luscious osso bucco. The coveted chops — rich, supple, luxurious and perfect for careful grilling.

The loin, remarkable and extremely expensive — this cut is why roasting was developed. Imagine a caramel-colored exterior, with a thin, delicate, crispy crust, a dreamlike juicy interior, and the aroma, OMG! The shoulder, almost an afterthought if you’re not French, conjures visions of steaming Veal Blanquette. This is the penultimate stew, with its rich broth of white veal stock, delicate balance of herbs and vegetables, and a soul-warming exercise in comfort.

Let us not forget the misunderstood breast. This cut requires the skill of a true craftsman. The result? Let me simply say — life-altering.

So go ahead and avoid veal, but if you dare indulge, try this veal piccata recipe.
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Chef Bill’s Veal Piccata

Ingredients:

 

  • 4 veal scallops, approx. 3 ounces each 
  • 1/2 shallot, brunoise 
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced 
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 oz. chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. capers, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. minced Italian parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Seasoned flour as needed

Directions:

 

  1. Cover cutting board with plastic wrap, place veal on top and cover with plastic wrap. Pound with a meat mallet to 1/4-inch thick.
  2. Heat oil and half the butter in a sauté pan.
  3. Dredge veal in flour, sauté to a golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  4. Add the shallots, sweat; add the garlic, sweat.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth, reduce au sec. Add the broth, reduce by half. Add the capers.
  6. Return the veal to the pan, allow to heat through, plate veal.
  7. Swirl in the butter, add the parsley, and adjust the seasoning. Spoon over the veal.

Until we cook again,
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Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Amelia Island Culinary Academy in Historic Fernandina Beach, at [email protected] with your recipes or questions, to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!

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