Paupiettes de veau

Stuffed veal scallops

Paupiettes de veau, a classic French dish, are veal scallops wrapped around a flavorful stuffing. They are rarely prepared from scratch in France as every butcher shop and many supermarkets offer them ready-made — all you have to do at home is to braise them. But they are surprisingly easy to make, and well worth the effort.

In France, the paupiettes are usually stuffed with a mix of ground pork and ground veal. But as ground veal is hard to come by in many places, I have adapted the recipe to contain only pork, using sausage meat to ensure there is enough fat. For best results, use saucisse de Toulouse or equivalent if in France, or a high-quality Italian-style sausage elsewhere.

Ask the butcher to cut the scallops thin. They will then need to be pounded to make them still thinner and wide enough to roll around the stuffing. If the butcher can do this for you, fine. If not you can do it at home using a rolling pin or wooden mallet to pound them, as explained below. You will also need some culinary string (butcher’s twine).

Preparation of the paupiettes — pounding the veal, making the stuffing, and rolling and tying them up — takes about half an hour. This may be done in advance. They then need to cook for about 40 minutes. The quantities below will serve 4 people.

4 thin veal scallops
1/2 pound (220 g) Italian-style sausage
2 slices baguette or white bread, preferably stale
1/2 cup (10 cl) milk
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
several sprigs flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper
4 strips bacon
4 fresh sage leaves (optional)

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup (10 cl) dry wine (white or rosé)
1/2 tsp. dried herbs (herbes de Provence, thyme, tarragon or sage)
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste

1/2 cup water

Pounding the veal

Dry off the scallops using paper towels. Place one scallop on a board covered with parchment paper or wax paper. Place another sheet of paper on top. Pound with a rolling pin or mallet to flatten as much as possible. Repeat with the other scallops. Set aside.

Making the stuffing

Using a sharp knife, cut through the sausage casing. Remove and discard. Transfer the sausage meat to a medium bowl.

Cut off the crusts of the bread. Place what’s left (the white bit, or la mie) in a small bowl, cover with milk and allow to soak while proceeding with the next step.

Finely mince the onion. Add 2 tbsp. to the sausage, setting aside any extra. Finely mince the garlic and add. Mince enough parsley leaves to make 2 tbsp. Add. Grind on some black pepper — no need to add salt, as the sausage is already salty.

When the bread is thoroughly soaked and tender, transfer it to a sieve. Press down to remove as much milk as possible. Then squeeze with your hands. Add to the sausage. Mix everything together using your hands.

Rolling the paupiettes

Trim one scallop to form an oval-ish shape. Place on a board or (easier) in a small bowl. Form a meatball from the sausage mixture and place in the center of the scallop. Fold the thinner sides of the veal up against the meatball. Then fold over the larger sides to make a small packet. Try to cover the stuffing completely.

Now wrap a strip of bacon horizontally around the paupiette. Cut off a generous length of string. Place the paupiette on top of the string and tie it up as you would a birthday present. Snip off the ends of the string. Make sure you have secured the spot where the bacon overlaps itself. If not, tie again with another piece of string.

Repeat with the rest of the scallops. If you like, you can slip a fresh sage leaf under the string of each paupiette. You can now refrigerate the paupiettes until ready to cook them.

Cooking the paupiettes

Heat the olive oil to sizzling in a heavy-bottomed pot or skillet. Add the paupiettes. Turn down the heat to medium high. Brown on all sides until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the extra minced onion you set aside and sauté briefly, stirring. Add the wine. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula to incorporate the lovely browned bits. Add the dried herbs and salt. Add the water. Stir.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Serve the paupiettes with steamed veggies (such as zucchini ribbons, as shown in the photo), with a veggie purée (for example, of finocchio or potatoes), sautéed mushrooms, rice or pasta, or a combination. Drizzle with the sauce. Serves 4.

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