Veal Stew or Veal Pot Pie

Serves 6.

Why this recipe. This is part of my cheap meat repertoire. Veal stew is reasonably inexpensive. It does not cost much more than good quality hamburger. Unlike hamburger, veal has a pedigree. It has some class. As a result, you can put on a classy dinner party. It is flashy dinner item if you make a pot pie with the veal stew.

What you will need:

2 pounds veal stew meat.

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

2 tablespoons olive oil plus more as needed.

4 ounces salt pork cut into lardons (pieces about the size if the first two joints of your little finger)

8 ounces of cremini mushrooms cut in half.

2 medium onions, about 8 ounces in julienne strips.

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

Bouquet garni of 2 sage leaves, a spring of rosemary the length of your finger, 3 sprigs of thyme also the length of your finger, a parsley sprig. Tie all these with butcher twine.

½ cup white wine.

1 cup veal stock.

1 cup water.

3 ounces of fresh young carrots cut into the thinnest rounds.

1 pint of heavy cream. Preferably not ultrapasteurized and from a local dairy.

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of butter to make a roux.

Optional: a cup of cooked peas and another of cooked pearl onions.

Pâte Brisée (unsweetened pie dough) and an egg yolk, if you want to make a pot pie. Pâte Brisée recipe follows. You could forgo making a dough and use a puff pastry dough that you can purchase at the grocery store.

Preparation:

Preheated your oven to 250-degree F.

Sprinkle the meat with ¾ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Toss the meat a bit to evenly distribute the salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a 12-inch fry pan, sauté the lardons in the olive oil until brown, this will take 8-10 minutes. Then remove them to a side plate. Sauté the onions in the pan until they are soft (5-8 minutes) and add these to a 5-6-quart Dutch oven that you can cook the stew in. Sauté the mushrooms in same pan (if you feel you need more fat, add some olive oil). When the mushrooms are browned (5-8 minutes) remove them to a Dutch oven. Sprinkle the contents of the Dutch oven with the 2 tablespoons of flour and give if a good stir.

Now brown the veal in the same pan in which you browned the onions and mushrooms. If you need more fat in the pan, add some olive oil, or return the lardons to the pan to render more fat. The veal will take 8-10 minutes to brown; while it browns, toss the veal in the pan so it browns evenly. When the veal is browned, add it, along with the lardons, to the Dutch oven.

Deglaze the pan in which you cooked the veal with the wine.

Now bury the bouquet garni in the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, wine, veal stock, and water to the Dutch oven. Ideally you want the veal to sit above the liquids, rather them submerged by the liquid in the pan. So, have the meat atop of vegetables in the pan. Heat the pan to a simmer. Cover it and place it in the preheated 250-degree F oven for 2½ hours. Every thirty minutes give the pan a good shake or uncover it and stir the contents. Remember to always recover the pan when you stir the contents.

When the stew has cooked 2½ hours remove it from the oven. You can stop working the recipe now and refrigerate the stew and the next day gently reheat it and procced. In any event the next steps are…

Heat the cream in a sauce pan over a low fire and reduce by HALF. This will take 30 minutes of gentle cooking and stirring. While this happens make a roux with the flour and butter. When the roux has cooked 2-3 minutes add 2 cups of the cooking liquid (from the stew) to the roux and whisk it vigorously. Pour this into the simmering stew to thicken it. Add the cream when it has reduced by half, and final add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Give it all a good stir and simmer for another minute. Serve it over boiled rice.

Options: I add fresh peas when in season or frozen peas the rest of the year. I add these to the stew after it has come out of the oven and it is being with the roux and cream. Just be sure that the peas are fully cooked before adding them to the stew. Same for pearl onions. Use a cup of thawed frozen pearl onions.

You could skip the cream and the mustard, and you would have a perfectly fine veal stew without these ingredients. I like the richness of the cream and the tanginess of the mustard.

Finally, you can make a pot pie! Allow the stew cool, but still warm. Then spoon it into a large pie pan and cover with a purchased puff pastry or Pâte Brisée (unsweetened pie dough). The recipe for Pâte Brisée is on the chapter “Building Blocks.” Cook the pie in a 375-degree oven for about 30 minutes. During the last 15 minutes brush the top of the dough with and a whisked egg yolk. That will give it a deep golden color.

Pie Dough (Pâte Brisée)

Makes enough to line and top a 9-inch pie pan.

What you will need:

250 grams all-purpose flour.

125 grams unsalted butter (that’s about 10 tablespoons) icy cold and cut into 15-20 pieces.

½ teaspoon kosher salt.

1 egg yolk.

1 glass of ICE COLD water with a tablespoon handy. (A glass of water with ice in it.)

Preparation:

In the food processor bowl add the flour, salt, and butter. Process for 12 seconds. Add the egg yolk and process for 3-4 second. Add 2 tablespoons of ice cold water and process for 2-3 seconds.

Transfer the dough to a bowl. With your hands try to form the dough into a ball. It should do this easily. If not, you may need to add a little more ice-cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time, because you cannot “un add” it. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

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