Cooking with Veal
Possibly because we have always treated veal so unimaginatively, this delicately flavored meat has never been very popular with Americans. According to a Department of Agriculture survey, we eat only about 1.5 lbs. of veal per capita per year as opposed to the French and Italians who eat about nine lbs. per year per capita. The production of veal is traditionally a function of the dairy industry since milk-fed veal is the young of "calving" dairy cows.
Breaded veal cutlets, the age-old method of preparing thin slices of veal cut from the hind leg, seems to have fallen by the wayside but now, the quickly seared "scallopine," (the same cut) is apparently the only other veal dish we eat. There are plenty of other less popular parts of the veal carcass a butcher must get rid of, and these are often at attractively low prices.
Breast of veal, boned and stuffed with aromatic herb, pork sausage, and onion mixture, is a dish that doesn't shriek its parsimony. Cut in long strips across the breast, pieces of veal called tendrons by the French are braised slowly with wine and vegetables to make a stout country stew. Shoulder is an excellent cut for Blanquette de Veau and the less familiar brown veal ragout called Veal Marengo.
Chops and roasts from the ribs and loin are too costly to be considered in this book. But whatever veal you choose, the flesh should be a very pale pink, almost white, if it is a true milk-fed calf slaughtered before its fourteenth week. Some of the dark reddish meat sold as veal might be more properly labeled “baby beef.” Plume de Veau is the finest - and hideously expensive - quality, and only a small quantity is produced. Italian butchers generally have the best genuine milk-fed veal, and they know best how to slice perfect escallopes and separate the muscles into neat, compact seamless roasts.
Veal, like beef, is graded Prime, Choice, Select, etc., but if you see no grade mark, the color of the flesh still tells you a good deal about it. But even "bob" feel from older animals can be lightened and tenderized by marinating it in milk. Veal is never aged and should be cooked within a day or so of purchase, or frozen. Because it is all lean (thus good for dieters, cholesterol worriers, and people in delicate condition), veal is too dry to broil. (I know that veal chops are sometimes broiled in restaurants but it's not the best way to cook them.) Except for chops and escallopes, which are quickly sautéed in butter, veal needs long, gentle, moist cooking, and it also benefits from the subtle influences of wine, herbs, and vegetables."
- from "Good Cheap Food" by Miriam Ungerer
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