Scallops of Veal with Cucumbers

This is a recipe of my own adapted from a vast seventeenth-century receipt. As well as the ‘cowcumbers’ it contained cocks’ combs, oysters, and artichoke bottoms, though ‘cowcumbers’ predominate, and a great many herbs and spices. It was baked as a huge pie, a quart of cream being poured through slits in the lid a few minutes before serving. My adapted recipe is very simple but retains the combined flavours and textures of the veal, cucumber and cream.

Ingredients

  • 2 small scallops of veal for each person, cut very thin and flattened (your butcher will do this)
  • 1 cucumber
  • ½ lb. (240 g.) puff pastry (buy frozen)
  • ½ pint (3 dl.) (double) cream
  • flour, salt and pepper
  • ½ lb. (120 g.) butter
  • a pinch of paprika

Method

Roll out thinly a small packet of frozen puff pastry, cut into triangular pieces, each side about inches (4 cm.) long, and bake in a very hot oven (425° F., gas mark 7) for 5 to 10 minutes. These can be made in advance and reheated in a cool oven or the warming drawer.

Peel the cucumber and cut in rings about half an inch thick, which you then halve across. Boil these till tender (about 10 minutes) in salted water. Drain and keep warm, covered.

Coat the veal scallops with seasoned flour and fry in butter, browning on both sides (about 3 minutes a side). Remove and keep hot, covered, in a cool oven. Loosen the glaze and juices in the pan with a spoon, stir in a teaspoonful of flour to make a very little roux, stir in ½ pint of cream, mix in well, and then boil fiercely for a minute or two to reduce and thicken. Season, while it boils, with salt and pepper and a pinch of paprika. Unless it boils, the cream will not thicken to the right consistency.

Arrange the veal fillets on a flat serving dish with the cucumber pieces among them – there should be about four to each fillet. Pour the sauce all over and serve, garnished with the pastry croutons.
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