Saturday, August 27, 2011

On the Cheap

For those who like veal and don't want to spring for expensive veal leg meat, you can often find veal stew meat at a considerable discount at your local supermarket.  This is frequently shoulder meat but, sometimes, better cuts are remaindered as stew meat at about one third the price of leg meat.  When you find such a deal, first make sure that it is fresh and, second, that it is pale ... almost white.  Buy about a half a pound per person since it will lose some bulk both in trimming and cooking.  Also acquire a package of tiny baby carrots, some tiny red, white, or fingerling potatoes (or pick the smallest ones out yourself), a package of frozen pearl onions, and a package of small white button mushrooms.

To prepare this stew give yourself at least two hours.  Start by trimming the stew meat of all gristle and unnecessary fat ... and cutting it into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces (I like it smaller to match the size of the other ingredients).  Then salt, pepper and flour the meat liberally.  Heat some canola oil in a large stainless steel frying pan and brown the veal well on all sides.  Then add a good tablespoon of butter and the cleaned mushrooms that have been cut to the size of the veal chunks.  Saute them until they take on good color.  Add the baby carrots and two cups of chicken or veal stock ... not beef stock as we are trying to keep this dish pale in color and delicate in flavor.  For herbs, may I suggest about a teaspoon of fresh chervil or half a teaspoon of dried.  Lacking this herb, substitute the same amount of tarragon.  Also add a large bay leaf and, maybe a bouquet garni if you have one..  Cover and simmer for about an hour.

Uncover and add the pearl onions and potatoes ... halved if too big ... and simmer for another 20 minutes adding liquid or water as required.  (Note: if you don't include potatoes here, serve this veal stew over cooked white or wild rice.)  When ready, if the stew is not the texture of tomato soup, add a roux made with a tablespoon each of butter and flour or, better yet, arrowroot. Adjust the salt and pepper levels if required and simmer for another five minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and the bouquet garni.  Serve with a nice cold dry white wine (Chenin Blanc), a nice tart green salad (dandelion greens dressed with a vinaigrette ... see Recipe), and a crusty baguette.  Enjoy.

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