Birmingham Barbecued Veal

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes at least



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The only time I ever had barbecued veal in the South was at a lavish wedding reception in Birmingham, Alabama, but it was a dish I’ll never forget. Generally, veal has never been a popular meat in Dixie, possibly because, till just a few years ago, Southern veal was more often “baby beef” than the young, delicate, milk-fed calf’s meat prized by gourmands the world over. The irony, I learned, is that no meat (other than pork) lends itself better to the barbecuing process than a primal veal shoulder of an older calf that is boned, unrolled, marinated, and either grilled slowly over a very low charcoal fire or grilled briefly over charcoal and then baked in the oven. Once in a while, I do see veal shoulder (and breast) in better markets, but more than likely you’ll have to depend on a good butcher for this cut.


  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 8 scallions (part of green tops included), coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • ½ cup canned tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • One 4- to 5-pound boneless veal shoulder, trimmed of excess fat


In a blender or food processor, combine the onion, scallions, bell pepper, parsley, and garlic and chop till just blended but not puréed. In a large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat, add the blended vegetables, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, honey, vinegar, Worcestershire, capers, salt and pepper, and Tabasco, stir, reduce the heat to low, and simmer till very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Unroll the veal shoulder in a deep baking dish, spoon the cooled vegetable marinade over the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight, turning the veal once or twice.

Remove the veal from the refrigerator. Ignite a layer of charcoal briquets in an outdoor grill, let them burn till ashen (30 to 45 minutes), and place the grill rack about 5 inches over the coals. When the grill is ready, preheat the kitchen oven to 325°F. Remove the veal from the marinade, place on the grill rack, and grill about 15 minutes on each side, turning from time to time and brushing lightly with the marinade.

Transfer the veal to another deep baking dish or casserole, pour the remaining marinade over the top, cover, and bake in the oven till very tender, about 1½ hours. Serve the veal hot in slices with the sauce on the side.