Blanquette of Veal with Seasonal Vegetables

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I find that breast of veal is the best cut for this dish, which is one which we often serve at Arbutus. Its cartilaginous texture and silky richness lend themselves to slow cooking, which produces incomparable results. If you have trouble finding the breast, belly or shoulder is a good alternative. Traditional recipes tell us to blanch the veal first, but I find this eradicates a lot of the delicate flavour and all impurities will be strained off at a later stage.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg veal breast (preferably English rose or French Limousin), cut into large dice about 2.5 cm square
  • 2.5 litres chicken stock
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sprig of sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 medium potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled, cut in half and trimmed
  • 2 bunches of young carrots
  • 2 medium leeks, well rinsed and cut into 2.5 cm lozenges
  • Handful of spring greens (any firm green leaf, like cabbage or cavolo nero, will do)
  • 500 g butter
  • 500 g flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 50 ml whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks

Method

Put the diced veal in a saucepan, cover with the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and skim all the scum from the surface. Add the garlic, peppercorns, salt (not too much), sage, bay leaf and lemon zest. Continue to simmer gently for about 1 hour.

Add the potatoes, carrots, leeks and greens, and cook until these are soft. They will cook at different stages, so lift them out when ready and leave to cool naturally. By now the veal should be tender or just yield under pressure; if so, lift it out and allow to cool naturally. Keep the stock simmering.

In another pan, ideally the same size, melt the butter until foaming (noisette), then add the flour and stir to make a roux (making the roux with noisette butter gives a great nutty taste to the stock). Now strain the simmering stock into the roux, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes, to allow the flour to cook thoroughly. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Add the meat, vegetables and parsley, then finish by stirring in the cream to serve.

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