Veal stew, or blanquette de veau, is a great dish to serve in early spring. Here, the meat is blanched rather than browned, which makes the preparation easier than that of beef stew. Veal shoulder is available at Whole Foods Market and butcher shops.
Make Ahead: It's best to make the stew a day or two in advance so the flavors will meld. If you do, omit the lemon juice and add it just before serving. Reheat the stew over medium heat, stirring occasionally; if you have any leftover cooking liquid, you may wish to add some of it while reheating, as the stew will thicken in the refrigerator.
Servings: 8 - 10
- 8 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 4 pounds boneless veal shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces (see headnote)
- 4 ounces slab bacon, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 small bunch thyme, tied with kitchen twine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 8 to 10 cups rich veal or chicken stock or broth, or a combination of both (see NOTE)
- 1 medium cauliflower (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch florets
- 5 medium parsnips (6 ounces), trimmed, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 medium carrots (4 ounces), trimmed, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, rinsed and cut in half
- 8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, stemmed and rinsed
- 20 cloves garlic (from 2 or 3 heads)
- 2 cups frozen peeled pearl onions, defrosted
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups), stemmed, then stacked, rolled tightly and cut crosswise into thin strips (chiffonade)
- Freshly squeezed juice from 1 large lemon (1 tablespoon; see headnote)
- Chopped or snipped chives, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Have a large roasting pan at hand.
Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat; add 2 tablespoons of the salt and stir to dissolve. Add the veal; when the water returns to a boil, cook for 4 minutes, then drain and rinse the meat. Transfer the veal to a large enameled casserole or Dutch oven. Add the bacon, cloves, garlic powder, thyme, bay leaf, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper, stirring to incorporate.
Add enough of the rich stock or broth to cover the meat. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until the meat is fork-tender.
While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables: Combine the cauliflower florets, parsnips and carrots in a large bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the oil and season generously with kosher salt and pepper, tossing to coat evenly.
Combine the mushrooms, garlic and onions in a medium bowl; add the remaining tablespoon of oil and toss to coat evenly.
Transfer the cauliflower mixture to the roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes, then add the mushroom mixture to the pan and stir to incorporate. Roast for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are golden brown and fork-tender.
When the veal is cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer the veal and bacon pieces to a large bowl. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving at least 6 cups; if necessary, add stock or broth as needed to make 6 cups. If there is more than that, reserve for another use or for reheating (see headnote). Remove any visible fat from the cooking liquid. Discard the thyme bundle, cloves and bay leaf.
Melt the butter over medium-high heat in the same casserole or Dutch oven used to cook the veal. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the roux is light brown. Add 5 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, whisking to eliminate any lumps.
Add the cream and mix well, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.
Add the veal, bacon and vegetables, stirring to combine. (At this point, the stew can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for a day or two. Use the reserved cooking liquid to thin the stew as it reheats.)
Just before serving, add the spinach (if you'd rather incorporate it in the stew) and the lemon juice, stirring to incorporate. Otherwise, divide the spinach chiffonade among individual plates and spoon the stew on top. Garnish with the chopped chives, if desired. Serve immediately.
NOTE: Use your very best stock or broth to give the blanquette extra body. I enhanced reduced, concentrated homemade chicken stock with a pint of veal stock I bought at Wagshal's Market ($7.99, but worth it). Otherwise, I would have made a batch of homemade chicken broth using stock (homemade or store-bought) as the base liquid instead of just water. As a last resort, use store-bought broth and bump it up a little with a bouillon cube or two.
From Real Entertaining columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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