Sunday, July 18, 2010

Veau Viennoise, Leeks Vinaigrette

Mmhm. Two huge back to back work projects plus a complete hard drive crash spells B-U-R-N-O-U-T. I decided to take a break from cooking and blogging for a bit just to maintain sanity. Now I'm back and it's time to play catch-up!

One of the last things I cooked before taking hiatus was Veau Viennoise--that is, fried Veal scallopine. This is the first real veal dish that I've made from this cookbook, since I'm honestly not too keen on veal. It's not a very nice process to make veal (and this is from the girl who happily laps up foie gras at every opportunity), and even if I weren't bothered by that, I just don't find the taste that great. But I decided to give this dish a try when I found some free-range veal at the farmer's market, for a limited time this spring.

Ok I know you are scratching your head at the oxymoronic term "free-range veal," but here's the thing, the veal is made by never locking the calves up, but keeping them with their mother before they are slaughtered. Which is not PETA approved, naturally, but a little better than the pro-chainy variety of veal. So, I decided to give this dish a shot.

Here's a shot of the veal. It actually looks pretty good, doesn't it?

I started out by making the garnishes for the veal. Some nice fat lemon slices, chopped up hard boiled egg, and anchovies rolled around single caper berries. This was a pretty promising start.

Next, I made some bread crumbs by toasting some bread slices, and whizzing them through the food processor. (Pretty easy and way better than those horrible blue cans!)

Then I set up the veal assembly line: beaten eggs, seasoned flour, and bread crumbs.

It is pretty easy to see what to do here. First dredge the meat in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs until they are nicely coated. The meat gets refrigerated for a few hours.

While the meat chilled I made a side dish--leeks vinaigrette with sauce gribiche.

First I sliced the leeks in half so that they could soak, removing the grit from their layers.

Then I made sauce gribiche, which consists of chopped hard boiled egg, cornichons, capers, and parsley mixed with peanut oil and vinegar.

The leeks get boiled for about ten minutes until they are tender, then dressed with the sauce gribiche.

Finally, it is time to fry up some veal! I heated peanut oil in my sauté pan, then fried the scaloppine until the crumbs were golden brown.

Once the veal was all fried, I served them topped with lemon slices, caper and anchovies, and alongside chopped onion and hard boiled egg, with leek vinaigrette.

Also, champagne.

Looks good, but how did it taste? Well, it was okay. The veal itself was not bad, and I enjoyed it with far less guilt than non free range veal. But to be honest, the whole breaded and deep fried meat thing is not my favorite thing to eat, even though this was a good specimen of the species. I did like the mixed pickle/egg flavor of the sauce gribiche on the leeks, and would definitely make that again. All in all, not a bad dinner, but not my favorite.

However, one of the benefits of this dish was that I realized that deep frying is not so scary after all. Check out what I was able to make:

Yup, I am a fearless deep fryer, and made Thomas Keller's fab fried chicken for a Fourth of July picnic! Next up... frites!

Lessons Learned: Free range veal does exist! Deep frying is not so scary, and can be fun and rewarding.

Next Week: Well... Husband J is on a trip next weekend, so I'm cooking for one. I think I'll make a favorite thing that I DON'T want to share. That would be escargots, the world's greatest excuse to eat pretty much melted butter for dinner. Whoo!