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The Veal Deal

24 Sep

Vegetarians, look away.


I made veal for dinner a few weeks ago, and it was easy and delicious.

Veal has a bad rap in this country. People avoid it like the plague, or as if PETA’s going to barge through their front door if they dare serve it to their family. But the truth is that you can get cruelty free veal, especially if you shop at European groceries or buy from small farmers.

Brooklyn Heights Mansion

My mother accompanied me on a trip to Italy in 10th grade. It was supposed to be a group of about 30 students, but the first Iraq war started 4 days before we were scheduled to leave and all but about 10 students canceled. The tour operator required more than 10 kids to continue the tour, so my high school opened the trip up to parents, teachers and, well, anyone who would pay for it, so my mom came along.

It was the most regimented tour I’ve ever been on. We were told when to sleep, where to walk and of course, what to eat. At the time I had just decided to become a vegetarian, and so what did they serve at every meal? Veal, naturally.

If it had been any other meat I would have eaten it, if only to survive. The meals were meager and bleak. I lived on gelato and grappa, until one day I nearly passed out. My mother forced me to eat the veal. I was shocked, it was good, and it was different.

Shy House

Years later I found out that the vogue for keeping veal calves under tortuous conditions was largely an American invention. The veal served across Europe is allowed to gallivant and gambol, thus giving the meat a meatier texture and darker color.

I’ve never cooked veal. I’ll order it from time to time in restaurants, but it’s never even crossed my mind to buy it when contemplating the meat counter. That’s changed now, and I’ve got RayRay to thank.

Lebanese Church Door, Brooklyn Heights

The same day that Dandy Sandy made something that looked edible, Ms. Ray said something that made me go, “Duh.” “Why don’t more people cook with veal?” she asked. “It’s so easy and delicious and cooks up in a flash.” I’d never thought of it like that, and so I was determined to give it a go. And you know what? She’s right.

I marinated the meat in vinegar for an hour, a recipe I found in the Silver Spoon, and then gave it a light fry in butter, a few minutes on each side. The meat was tender and delicious, a little gamey and just ever so sour, like a sauerbraten, but better and more subtle.

Slightly Sour Veal with Pappardelle con Broccoletti

To accompany I whipped up a half-recipe of the Silver Spoon‘s fresh pasta recipe, cut it into papparadelle and and made a quick sauce of broccoli rabe. It was delicious and satisfying, and the leftover veal was possibly even better a few days later heated through in a pan with a little water and served over a bed of arugula dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil.

Yummo indeed!

Head below the jump for the recipes for Slightly Sour Veal and Pappardelle con Broccoletti.

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