Veal in cream sauce
This classic French veal stew may be prepared in advance, but the lovely lemony cream sauce must be made at the last moment.
A word on ingredients. The cuts of veal most commonly used for blanquette in France are shoulder (épaule) and and breast (tendrons). If these are not available, ask your butcher for chuck. As for the onions, I usually choose green onions (spring onions or scallions) as I lack the patience to peel the more traditional pearl onions.
Preparation of blanquette de veau is a bit more of a production than most of the recipes on this site, but it’s worth the effort. You will need a large stewing pot, a medium sized pot and 3 saucepans.
Serve the blanquette on top of rice, accompanied by a salad and a fine red wine.
2 pounds (1 kilo) stewing veal
1 large onion
1 branch celery
4 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups water
2 cups dry white wine
3 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. sea salt
1 bunch spring onions or scallions, or 20 pearl onions
1/2 pound (250 g.) mushrooms
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup (10 cl) crème fraîche or heavy cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the veal into large cubes, about 2 inches (5 cm) per side. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Heat 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil to sizzling in a heavy-bottomed stewing pot. Sauté the veal pieces until they are nicely browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the water and wine to the pot. The liquid should cover the meat completely — if there’s not enough, add more water.
Peel and pare one carrot and the large onion. Rinse and pare the celery branch. Add them to the pot, along with the parsley, thyme, bay leaf, sea salt and pepper corns. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 90 minutes, until the meat is tender.
While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Peel the remaining carrot and slice into thin rounds. Peel the little onions. If using spring onions or scallions, remove all but about an inch (2.5 cm) of the green stems. Rinse the mushrooms, pare the bottom of the stems and cut in quarters.
In a saucepan, sauté the carrot rounds and onions together in 1 tbsp. butter until tender, about 10 minutes. In a second saucepan, sauté the mushrooms in 1 tbsp. butter over high heat until they release and reabsorb their juices, about 5 minutes. Combine the veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for reheating later.
When the meat is tender, spear the cubes with a fork and transfer them to a clean medium sized pot. Place a sieve over the new pot and pour the cooking liquids through. Discard the contents of the sieve.
You now have the veal in its broth in one pot and the vegetables in another. You will combine them later, after making the sauce. It’s a good time to take a break.
When ready to proceed, place the veal over a medium flame and heat to simmering. Place the veggies over a low flame to reheat gently. Make the rice, or whatever other side dish you plan to serve.
Now make the sauce. In a saucepan, mix the egg yolks with the cream and lemon juice. Add a ladle of hot broth from the stew pot to warm the cream. Place over a low to medium flame. Add 2 cups (1/2 liter) of hot broth and whisk until the mixture thickens. This can take up to 5 minutes. Be careful: if the sauce boils it will curdle. When the sauce coats a spoon thickly, it is ready.
It is now time to serve. Transfer the veal to a serving dish. Place the vegetables on top. Cover with the sauce. Serves 4-6.