Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Escalopes de Veau with White Asparagus and Cèpe Sherry Crème

     The Elegant Rich Flavor of Cep Mushrooms and Sherry Crème! 
     I used to butcher 2-3 veal legs per week while working a busy sauté station at a yacht club several years ago.  Knowing what each veal leg section is best used for is important when "breaking down" a leg of veal.
     There are three tough sections that are better off ground or stewed.  These tough sections include the flank caps.
     The natural shape and characteristics of the rest of the veal leg sections determine what is the best cut.  Large tender sections are sliced into whole cutlet shapes.  Small or narrow sections are sliced into scallopini shapes.  A small piece of the tenderloin is also part of a veal leg and this tender section can be cut into tips or petite medallions.
     Veal scallopini and cutlets are usually pounded thin with a meat mallet, so the meat is an even thickness and to ensure tenderness.  If cutlets are cut thin enough, they do not necessarily need to be tenderized.  Scallopini almost always need to be tenderized.
     All of the scraps are separated for stewing or ground veal.  The bones are sawed in pieces for veal stock.  The meaty shank section can be sawed into thick slices for braising dishes like Osso Bucco.

     It may sound like a lot of work, but a whole leg of veal can be completely broken down in less than thirty minutes.  This includes removing all silver floss, tendons and as well as portioning.  The best way to break down a leg of veal quickly is to keep several razor sharp boning knives on hand.  When one knife started "dragging" or getting slightly dull, switch to the next sharp knife.  It is better to sharpen and hone all of the boning knives at one time, while on break.
     A chef's honing steel helps to keep a knife sharp when it begins to dull, but the edge will dull more often as time goes on.  A chef will have to run the edge of the knife on the honing steel several times while working on a veal leg and this reduces efficiency.  This is why switching to a fresh sharp knife saves time.

     Purchasing and preparing a whole leg of veal does save money in a restaurant, but in a home kitchen this might be impractical if there is not enough space in the freezer.  Fully prepared veal cutlets and scallopini can be packaged and frozen for later use, but these items will eventually be subject to freezer burn if they are not cooked within a few months.
     Some grocery stores offer prepared veal cutlets and scallopini, but more often than not, the quality leaves something to be desired.  When purchasing small quantities of veal cutlets or scallopini it is better to go to a good butcher shop.  Pro butchers take pride in offering perfectly cut veal.

     Escalopes de Veau with White Asparagus and Cèpe Sherry Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     This is an "a la minute" style sauté recipe that should be cooked shortly before serving.
     Step 1:  Soak about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried cep mushroom slices in 1 cup of water in a refrigerator overnight.
     Remove the reconstituted cep mushrooms from the soaking liquid.
     Save the soaking liquid and set it aside.
     Chop the ceps into small pieces and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Select 3 or 4 veal escalopes that weigh about 2 ounces apiece.
     Pound the veal escallops with a meat mallet so they are thin and even.
     Lightly season the veal with sea salt and white pepper.
     Dredge the escalloped veal pieces in flour.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil or duck fat.
     Sauté the veal escallops, till they are fully cooked and light brown highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Drain the excess butter out of the pan.  Leave about 1/2 tablespoon in the pan.
     Return the pan to medium heat.
     Step 5:  Add 6 peeled white asparagus spears that are about 4" long.  (Only peel the white asparagus if they are large or thick.  Thin white asparagus will be tender without peeling.)
     Add the reserved small chopped cep mushrooms.
     Briefly sauté for about 20 seconds.
     Step 6:  Add 3/4 cup of sherry.
     Simmer and reduce the sherry by half.
     Step 7:  Add 2 tablespoons of the cep mushroom soaking liquid.
     Add 3/4 cup of cream.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Simmer and reduce educe the sauce, till it is a medium thin consistency that can easily coat a spoon.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Overlap the escalloped veal and white asparagus spears across the front half of a plate.
     Spoon the cep sherry cream sauce over the veal and asparagus.
     Serve with a vegetable of your choice.
     Braised Thin Cabbage Wedge with Red Bell Pepper:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     The entrée in the photos was served with a braised thin cabbage wedge that was topped with a sprinkle of chopped red bell pepper.  This vegetable has nice eye appeal!
     Step 1:  Cut a medium size cabbage head in half from top to bottom.
     Cut a thin 3/8" thick slice of cabbage from top to the core end.  Leave the core attached.
     Step 2:  Place the thin cabbage wedge in a wide sauteuse pan or sauté pan
     Add just enough water or light chicken broth to cover the cabbage.
     Drizzle 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter over the cabbage.
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 3:  Place the pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Cover the pan with a lid.
     Allow the cabbage to braise, till it becomes tender, but not too soft.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Use a spatula to place the thin cabbage wedge on a plate.
     Sprinkle some warmed diced red bell pepper over the cabbage.

     This is a rich tasting veal entrée that is perfect for the winter season!

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