Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TFL- Braised Veal Breast, Polenta Cakes, Glazed Vegetables and Sweet Garlic

The Butcher finally came through. Although he couldn't procure the Bobby breast specified in the recipe, we got a slab of veal. Thirteen pounds to be not exactly exact. So there was some trimming to be done and some butchering to be done, none of which was photographed due to my sister's sensibilities...just in case she is still reading these silly musings. We chose the end of the slab that had the shorter bones and thicker meat; in hindsight it may have been better to chose the other end, no way to tell for sure. Anyway, as I scurried through my T. Keller cookbooks looking for veal stew recipes (Bouchon- Blanquette de Veau coming soon), WSH produced the breast of veal. This meal was a two day process by the way. First things first, the veal has to braise for four hours or so and be compressed overnight, so I tackled that first.
Where's the beef? veal?

Here are the components of the braising liquid: chicken and veal stock mixed, carrots, leeks, onions, half a head of garlic, bay leaf, thyme, italian parsley

First you heat some canola oil in an ovenproof pot/skillet big enough to hold all this! Season the veal with salt and pepper and when the oil starts to pop place the veal, fat side down into the pan to brown 5 minutes or so over medium hugh heat. Turn the veal, but it won't brown as well on the bone sidedue to the curvature of the ribs.Here's the yummy fat-side up shot:

When that's done, remove the veal to a plate and pour off any excess fat... how do you tell how much is excess? I don't know either, so I swagged it. Put the veggies and herbs in and let them sizzle for a little while until they start to barely carmelize.

Then add your 8 cups of stock and place the veal back in fat side up:

Looks nice doesn't it? You should have smelled it cooking... It was fantastic.  And don't you go plopping this in the preheated 325 oven uncovered, mind you. First dig way down deep and fish out your geometry skill set.. or do like I did and follow the illustrations. Take a sheet of parchment paper larger than your pan and fold it in half to make a triangle. You fold and fold about six times as if you are making a paper airplane rocketship. Then you hold the tip at the center of the pan:

Then you cut off 1/4 in from the tip and trim the outside to the edge of the pan and voila you have a parchment lid! Ok it didn't fit exactly but with a few alterations it was lovely. Ready for the oven!

Meanwhile back on the stove...  Polenta! I've read various articles and seen TV segments focusing on Polentaphobia. People have been intimidated by the Italian grandmothers who say you MUST stand at the stove and stir CONSTANTLY for an hour to make it smooth. I forget where I read it, but there was an assertion that I loved put forth by someone who had some authority.  This person suggested that the idea of standing by the stove and stirring constantly for an hour was really the idea of the grandmother's family, who wanted to keep her busy for an hour and not meddling in their affairs. I don't know.. I must confess I can see it though, I can definitely see it.  For those of us lucky enough to have grown up in the South, we fear no Polenta! We have had grits since childhood. Polenta is just fine ground yellow corn meal, really not so different from grits.The cast of characters  Not pictured: chicken stock and water:

When your stock/water is at a slow boil, add the minced garlic and let it cook for a minute. Then slowly add the polenta ( and at this step you really DO need to whisk constantly). Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally until polenta is soft and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, chives and marscapone. Seriously, how could that be anything but yum?

Chef Keller says to salt and pepper to taste at this point. Being the rule follower that I am, this was quite a dilemma for me. You see, cooking grits (in the south where they are done properly) it is a Sin (capital S) not to salt the water before the grits are added. In this case I decided I'd rather break a rule than Sin, so I salted mine first. I did, however, add the pepper at the end.

Pour your polenta into a buttered or sprayed 9x13 baking dish and set aside to cool. When at room temperature, cover with plastic wrap on the surface of the polenta and move everything around to find a space in your refrigerator where it can rest overnight.

Back to the veal: You can tell it's done when the ribs can be easily removed taking care not to burn your fringerprints off! Removed without resistance is how the book put it. Once out of the oven, discard the veggies and herbs. Ladel the braising sauce into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. I set that bowl in an ice bath to speed up cooling and then put it (covered)  in the fridge overnight. As for the veal, carefully remove the bones, and using a sharp knife with the bone side up, cut away the fat and connective tissue, taking care not to remove too much of the meat in the process.

Now here's where we stray from the recipe. It says to place the meat on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper (check) then FOLD it in half and compress the meat with weights set atop. The folding was the problem. We had a piece of meat about 3/4 of an inch thick - the size that the finished product should be - so I opted for no folding. Besides I don't think it would have stayed folded. It was a steak like piece of meat.
We did compress it with the two baking dish- 4 heavy cans of beans and /or tomatoes method and stuck it into the overcrowded fridge for the night.

Incidentally while all of the above was going on I was stirring, checking, and skimming, that's right,  I was making white veal stock for the upcoming Blanquette de Veau. I was a tired puppy when it came time to turn out the lights. Just like this old gal who was in a veal bits coma. It was her first experience with veal and she said it is now her favorite.

Cue the soundtrack: Morning has broken... Well, I didn't actually start in the morning. But anyways, on to the vegetable garnish and sweet garlic. The garnish consists of turnips, carrots, celery root (not available) and beets.  The instructions are to cut as follows: carrots into 1/4 in batons, turnips into fluted ovals, celery root, batons as well, beets into parisienne balls. Well folks, I only have a limited amount of space for specialized tools and very limited fancy knife skills so I made everything into matchsticks, only the carrots look more like logs than matchsticks. First rule: the beets (who refused to be photographed)  must always be kept separate from the other veggies or they will cast their ruby red magic on the turnips and carrots. Second rule, keep the veggies in ice water until ready to use... while you are trying to grow 4 more arms to have enough hands to finish everything at once. What would that make you ? A sextopus? Hmmm. I might be on to something here.

Now to finish up. Take your compressed veal out of the fridge and the polenta as well.

First, let me apologize for the lack of pictures at this point. They were too blurry for even for me. Using a 2" round cutter (if you have one) cut the veal into rounds, brush the pieces with dijon mustard on both sides and then coat both sides with panko breadcrumbs. Cut the polenta into same sized rounds (it's okay, you can make them squares if you want as long as polenta and veal are treated the same) dust them with flour on both sides. Heat two ovenproof skillets with 1/8 in canola oil until the oil shimmers. Place the veal rounds in one pan and the polenta in the other. Shake the veal pan and when the rounds slide around they are ready to turn. once browned on both sides either set aside or you can slide the pans into a 350 oven to warm them all the way through if needed..

Somewhere before the browning, start your sweet garlic. Peel 8 cloves of garlic and place in a pan with cool water. Bring it to a boil, strain and run the garlic under cool water.

Repeat twice. On the third boil simmer until the cloves are tender. Drain. Heat some butter in a small skillet and add a pinch of sugar, toss the garlic around until the garlic is slightly browned, set aside.

Reduce the braising liquid to make the sauce ( terrible picture). Bring it slowly to a simmer and reduce until you have about 2 cups. You will use one cup for this recipe along with these shallots and parsley

Find some more pans from your garage or somewhere and drain the vegetables. Heat some canola in a skillet and place all the veggies (except the beets!) in the pan and cook until they begin to color slightly. Add 1/3 c of Beurre Monte and sprinkle in chives. At the very last minute when you are ready to plate put the beets in the pan so they can warm through.

To plate:
Place a spoonful of sauce in the center of the plate. Place a polenta round in the center. Place a veal round on top of the polenta. Finally garnish with the vegetables and a sweet garlic clove. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

The sauce was wonderful - savory rich, just beautiful. The crispy outside, creamy inside Polenta was fantastic, it had a tang and a slight sweetness from the marscapone, the garlic came through- it was lovely. The vegetable garnish was ok - it was flavorful especially because of the beets but overall it disappointed - damn! I knew I should have done fluted ovals and parisienne balls. The veal was good but not as tender as I had hoped. The dijon added a nice zing and the crispy panko played well with the creamy polenta. The hit of the night, believe it or not, was the sweet garlic. It was so perfect! Just very slightly sweet, not bitter at all, very savory and would be a great addition to many dishes.

See you soon!

1 comment:

  1. put it in the microwave it gets done faster lol.