Veal blanquette or blanquette de veal is a classic French dish, which has become one of the greatest known trademarks of French cuisine. It is a stew based main dish, in which the veal is cooked in a roux and cream based white sauce. This recipe has been introduced to the American food market by Julia Child and now other ingredients like pearl onions and quartered mushrooms are also added to the dish. This is simply a wonderful recipe, which is perfect for serving even in parties.
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Servings Per Recipe: 6-8
Preparation Time Required: 15-20 minutes
Cooking Time Required: 40-50 minutes
4 lbs. of veal stew meat, cut into 1 inch sized cubes
3-4 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
1 teaspoon of dried tarragon
1 cup + 1/2 cup of dry white vermouth
3-4 leeks, cut into 1 inch sized pieces
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch sized pieces
1 lb. of button mushrooms, quartered
1 lb. of pearl onions, peeled
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
2-3 small bay leaves, dried or fresh
2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
5 cups of water
2 large egg yolks
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
Salt, to taste
4 tablespoons of all purpose flour
A large handful of finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon of sugar
7 tablespoons of heavy cream
1 small pan
1 stirring spoon
1 wire mesh
Method of Cooking
1. Fetch a large pot and line its bottom with half of the veal cubes. Top that with half of the carrots, leeks, onion slices, garlic and half of the celery. Spread the vegetables evenly over the veal pieces to make room for the other ingredients. Then sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of tarragon, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4th teaspoon of dried thyme and 1/4th teaspoon of white pepper over the layer of veal and vegetables. Next, drop 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves into the pot. Once done, repeat the same process of layering by starting with the remaining veal pieces and finishing with the remaining cloves and bay leaves.
2. Once done, place the pot on the stove and set the flame on high. Pour the white vermouth and the water over the entire mixture and then let the mixture come to a boil. Once the mixture starts boiling, turn down the flame to medium and let the mixture simmer slowly for 30-40 minutes.
Simmer the mixture uncovered for the stated time period and make sure that you skim off the scum frequently that gets collected on the surface of the liquid. Once the time elapses, cover up the pot with a heavy lid and let the mixture simmer for another 50-60 minutes or until the meat becomes very tender. The meat should be very tender but it should not start falling apart from the bones.
3. Now take a large bowl and place it beside the pot. Fish out as many veal and vegetables pieces from the stew as possible and then strain the mixture to seperate out the remaining spices, meat pieces and vegetables from the stock. Discrad the bay leaves and the cloves and retain the stock for later use.
Now fish out the vegetable pieces and discard them. Pour back the veal stock into the pot and then turn up the flame to high. Drop the veal pieces back into the pot and boil them uncovered with the stock for 30 minutes or until the stock reduces to about 4 cups.
4. While the stock is boiling, take a saucepan and fill it halfway up with water. Place the saucepan on the stove beside the pot and then let the water heat up. Once the water reaches the boiling point, drop the pearl onions in it and boil them for 1 minute. Once the time gets over, drain away the water from the saucepan by dumping the pearl onions into a colander. Now let the onions cool down a little by letting them sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Once the pearl onions are cooled enough to handle, peel off their skin and then set them aside.
5. Next place a small pan on the stove. Light up the flame and set it on medium low. Then drop 2 tablespoons of butter into the pan and let it melt. Once the butter melts, throw-in the peeled pearl onions and add the sugar to them. Stir and cook the mixture for 5-8 seconds and then pour enough water to cover the onions. Now turn up the flame to medium high and cook the mixture stirring it occassionally for 20-30 minutes or until most of the water evaporates out and the onions become soft. Once done, remove the pan from the stove and place a large skillet instead.
6. Turn up the flame to high and let the skillet heat up. Once the skillet heats up, put 2 tablespoons of butter in it and wait until the butter melts completely. Once that happens, put half of the mushrooms into the skillet and brown them on both sides by stirring them occassionally for 5-7 minutes or until they are nicely browned on both sides. Once done, transfer the browned mushrooms to a plate and brown the rest of the mushrooms in the same manner. You can brown all the mushrooms at a time but make sure that you don’t overcrowd the skillet; otherwise, the mushrooms will sweat instead of browning.
7. Once all the mushrooms are nicely browned on all sides, remove the skillet from the hob and place a saucepan on it. Adjust the flame and set it on medium and then drop the remaining butter into the saucepan. Swirl the saucepan to coat its base with the butter and also to melt the butter quickly.
Once the butter melts completely, add-in a little bit of the flour and whisk it to mix with the butter. Continue adding a little flour at a time while whisking the mixture until the entire flour gets moistened with the melted butter. Once that happens, pour 1 cup of the reserved veal stock into the saucepan and whisk it vigorously to combine it immediately with the roux.
8. Next, whisk-in 2 cups of the remaining veal stock. Stir the sauce lightly and then season it with a small pinch of salt. Once everything is mixed, let the sauce boil vigorously for 4-5 minutes or until it becomes a little thick. Then turn down the flame to medium low to simmer the sauce by whisking it frequently for 8-10 minutes or until it turns creamy and thick.
Now bring the remaining 1 cup of veal stock to a boil until it gets reduced to about half of its original volume. While the stock is boiling, take a medium sized bowl and drop the egg yolks in it. Whisk the egg yolks thoroughly and then add the cream to it in a slow stream while whisking it constantly, until it completely combines with the egg yolks.
9. Once thoroughly combined, spoon out about 2 tablespoons of the boiling veal stock to the egg and cream sauce and then whisk it vigorously and quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Once thoroughly combined, add another 2 tablespoons of the veal stock and whisk the mixture once again. Then combine the rest of the stock to the sauce. Give a light stir to the sauce to combine the added stock with it and then skim out any scrambled eggs from the sauce.
Once done, pour the sauce into the roux sauce. Now turn up the flame to medium and let the sauce simmer for 6-8 minutes. Once the time elapses, add the veal pieces, browned mushrooms and the pearl onions to the sauce and then simmer the mixture for another 1-2 minutes. Finally, stir-in desired amounts of lemon juice and the chopped parsley before serving the veal blanquette.