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Veal Loin Chops In Red Wine

veal loin chops

Veal loin chops are one of those things that I just don’t do often enough. Not sure why. They’re fairly easy to  get, every bit as tender and juicy as a good steak (well, close anyway) and they show up exceedingly well with a little simple sauce. I say this every time, but then I quickly forget about them. Got to work on that.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I want to talk about this lovely little red wine and mushrooms sauce we came up with to use on some loin chops the other day. There really isn’t much to the sauce, but it works extremely well with the chops. Can’t say for sure why it works so well, but believe me, it really does. Every thing just comes together with it. And the sauce can be made with a little bit of veal stock, a little red wine, some garlic and fresh thyme with a little butter at the end. It’s amazing.

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Veal and Artichoke Stew

Veal and Artichoke Stew

If you hang around Discovery Cooking much, you’ll know I’m a big fan of local farmers and ethical farming practices, whether we’re talking about the way livestock is treated or the way workers are treated. Whenever I can, I buy what these farms produce. In some cases, if I can’t get their product, I’ll do without. I’m lucky in that there are plenty of family owned traditional farms near enough that I’m usually no more than a visit to a farm market away from good ingredients.

I say all this because invariably, when I post a recipe like this veal and artichoke stew, I’ll hear from several people who refuse to entertain the idea of veal because of the way calves are treated. I understand the concern. But I know that not only are these awful practices unnecessary, but free-range grass-fed veal tastes better and cooks better than the mass-produced veal from factory farms. The veal used here came from Valentine Farms in nearby West Virginia. 

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Malfadine with Veal Ragù Bolognese

Malfadine with Bolognese Veal Ragù

I love a good pasta dish. I seriously could eat pasta just about every day and feel like I’m living the good life. For a lot of reasons, I can’t do that, so I tend to focus on doing something special on those occasions when I do plan a pasta dish. That’s where veal ragù Bolognese comes into play.

First of all, ragù has nothing to do with the brand name we all know. Real ragù is braised minced or ground meat (or shredded perhaps) cooked long and slow until it is thick and full of concentrated flavors. In Italy, there are regional variations and as many individual recipes as there are Italian cooks, which is to say, lots of them.

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Simple, Delicious Veal Chops

Simple veal chops

I love a good veal chop, and I love a simple meal that still pleases the eye on a plate. So when my favorite meat vendor at the farm market had a deal on some beautiful grass-fed veal chops, this seemed perfect for a summer Saturday dinner. (And if you’re not into veal, this will work with a quality pork chop, as well.)

As with a steak or pork chop, the key is to cook the meat quickly, with high heat, until not quite done, then let it rest and finish cooking away from the heat. The result is moist, tender and full of flavor. The only way to mess it up is to over cook the chops. This was done in a hot cast iron frying pan, which gave me the chance to make a nice pan sauce with lemon, mushrooms and scallions. You can also make these chops on a grill and serve with mushrooms sautéed in butter.

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City Chicken with Beet Tartare

City Chicken

When I was growing up in a small town in eastern Ohio, my  grandmother (and my mother) would often serve what she called “city chicken,” which was small pieces of meat (none of which was actually chicken) on a wooden skewer, breaded and fried. My younger brother and I loved city chicken and thought it was a real treat. What I didn’t know — or care about at the time — was that it was a money-saving dish that often showed up on the plate when things were a bit tight. That was because the butcher at the local grocery made up these meat lollipops out of scraps of veal and pork and sold them for a song. They were much less expensive than actual chicken.

When I decided to update the version I knew as a kid, I did some research and found that city chicken was a regional name that’s common in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. In other places, it’s called things like “mock chicken” or “mock drumsticks.” It first showed up in cookbooks, according to Wikipedia, around the time of the great depression. Makes sense.

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Wiener Schnitzel (Viennese Veal Cutlet)

Wiener Schnitzel

I vividly remember my first wiener schnitzel. I was working for a publishing company as an editor and writer in the mid 1980s at a time when small magazine publishers were just beginning to embrace computers as writing tools. Somehow, because of my interest in the technology, I found myself as the in-house computer/software expert. My company landed a contract to do some promotional materials for a German software company that was breaking into the U.S. market. Suddenly I found myself in Darmstadt, Germany on a two-week writing assignment. Well, actually, because of a hotel reservation glitch, I found myself in the tiny village of Heppenheim (it’s now much larger) for the first few days, with my evenings to myself.

Speaking no German, with no translator, I set out that first evening to find something to eat. I found a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant and realized, as I opened the menu, that I was in for an adventure. Not a word of English on the menu. Why would there be? I was able to figure out the layout of the menu, so I zeroed in on the one thing I recognized as a main course: wiener schnitzel. What I got a little later, along with an excellent local beer, was one of the best meals I’ve had anywhere. The veal was perfect, uniformly thin and lightly breaded with just a hint of lemon, served over a bed of fluffy egg noodles with a salad dressed in sweet vinaigrette.

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Veal Saltimbocca

veal saltimbocca

Veal Saltimbocca is one of those amazing Italian dishes that I can’t resist whenever I see it on a menu. It’s also one of those entrees by which you can usually judge the quality of an Italian restaurant and/or the skill of a cook. It’s not difficult to make well, but it does require care and attention.

Saltimbocca literally means “jumps in the mouth” in Italian. And properly done, veal saltimbocca does exactly that. It has layers of rich flavors, wonderful textures and is beautiful on the plate, too. The dish seems to have originated around Rome, but there are now variations throughout central and northern Italy. This version most resembles the Roman version, but not precisely.

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