Friday, April 23, 2010

Bouchon - Blanquette de Veau or Veal Stew

Having immersed myself in a foodie world, reading blogs and books and taking classes and talking to chefs, the one fundamental that I always knew to be true was that you always use the freshest best ingredients you can find for any dish. What I didn't realize until this blog project was how difficult it can be to find those freshest best ingredients. One of the things that makes Thomas Keller so successful is his network of suppliers. He knows who has the best of the best and has built relationships with them. That type of network is impossible for a housewife on a budget, although I CAN make friends with the various department managers at Whole Foods and other local stores, but sometimes the ingredients will still elude me. But this being a Bouchon recipe, and bistros always use what they have, I don't feel badly about the substitutions.

With the thirteen pounds of veal that arrived the other day, I scrambled to find a use for all of it. The bones and some meat went into a white veal stock. The rest of the meat we cleaned up removing all silverskin and cut it into chunks to make veal stew! I switched a few ingredients due to the season and availability, but I think I got the same effect. Let's start with the meat:

Put this in an ovenproof pot and pour in enough cool water to cover. Bring to boil and skim off all impurities.

Drain the meat in a colander and while it's still hot, rinse with cool water to wash off any impurities that stuck to the meat. Wash the pot and return the meat to it and add your 6c white veal stock and aromatics consisting of a leek split lengthwise then tied back together, 1 large or 2 small carrots cut into sections, 6 garlic cloves, 1/2 onion studded with 6 cloves and a bouquet garni:

Cover the pot and slide it in a 350 oven for about 2 hours. To check for tenderness, stick a piece of meat with a paring knife and if there's no resistance, it's ready. Remove the aromatics and lift the meat out and put it on a plate covered with plastic wrap. Ladel the braising liquid through a fine sieve into a medium pan you should have about 4 c. Place the pan over medium heat reduce to 3 1/2 cups.

While the meat is cooking cut up your vegetables. The recipe calls for baby carrots (with the greens cut to 1/4 in) and baby turnips, red and white pearl onions.  Baby carrots (not those things in the bag that are big carrots cut to look like baby carrots) are no where to be seen around here. I cut up some carrots and red potatoes (turnips had seen better days) and got some frozen white pearl onions. The recipe also calls for 20 white button mushrooms, cleaned and stems cut to the body of the shroom.
The recipe calls for cooking the carrots and turnips separately in boiling, well salted water. I just threw them in together I was running out of time having lost myself in a computer game for an hour LOL, and drained them when just tender. Reserve some of the liquid unless its too salty. 

Meanwhile back to the veal...

With the strained braising liquid reduced, whisk in by spoonfuls 1/3 cup of premade roux (either cool or at room temperature) and whisk until completely mixed bring to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes or until reduced to 3 cups. **In a whisper voice: add 1 c heavy cream ** stir to combine and simmer 5 minutes. then return the meat to the sauce.  Darn I thought I had  picture of that! Oh well. At this point the Blanquette (meat and gravy) can be cooled and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. If not storing, take a little 1/2 cup of the sauce and stir it into 1/2 c creme fraiche and then return the mixture to the pot.

Simmer for 3-4 minutes and add a grating of fresh nutmeg.

Back to the garnish...
Place a T of water and a T of butter in a skillet and heat until melted. Put the mushrooms in the skillet and toss them to coat all sides with the liquid mixture. Then flip them over so that all mushrooms are sitting stem side down, salt and pepper to taste and cook for 3-4 minutes, you can toss them if some are dry, but the tops should not brown.

Add to the skillet containing mushrooms, the blanched vegetables, the pearl onions and 1/4 c of the blanching liquid that you set aside, and 1 T butter, Toss the pan to coat with butter and keep it on medium heat just long enough to heat the vegetables through.

Final steps: Squeeze 1 T fresh lemon juice into the blanquette; then season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss chopped Italian parsley in with the veggies (I used chives).

To Plate:
Spoon the meat and sauce onto a plate or bowl, garnish with the vegetables and top with a sprig of chervil (chives again for me).

Wow! The mix of flavors and textures could not be beat. As you might imagine the sauce was dreamily creamy, so flavorful with the savory veal and the tang from creme fraiche and lemon. A perfect sauce I'd say. The veal was as tender as it could be and still hold together in pieces. The vegetables added a nice textural counterpart, and the carrots a sweetness that played well with the tanginess of the sauce. The Mushrooms! What a surprise! If you've ever had fried mushrooms you know that burst of mushroom juice that you get in the first bite? That's exactly what these were like, without the greasy coating. A very fresh burst of mushroom juice exploding in your mouth, it was great!  WSH did not have enough flattering adjectives for this dish. He LOVED it. And honestly he hasn't been all that swept away by the recipes I've done, save  for a few. When he said that this was a dish he could see being served at a restaurant the caliber of Bacchanlia (only in a tiny bowl), I knew I'd hit the jackpot.

See you soon.

Edit: After walking away and re-reading I see how this reads in a very disjointed way. I will try to put ingredients up first. It's hard enough cooking bringing 3-4 things together at the end. It's even harder to write about it coherently.  Leave me a comment if you have a suggestion. Thanks! : )

1 comment:

  1. let jim cook next time if he doesnt likesome of the meals lol.