Blanquette de veau
What could be more warming and satisfying on a cold winter’s night than this delicious French veal stew? Blanquette de veau is a classic dish that is served all over France. Blanquette is the French term for a ragout of white meat (veal, lamb or poultry) cooked in a white stock or water with aromatic flavorings, without browning in butter thus keeping it “white.” It requires some time… as my friend and fellow francophile Judy Williams discovered when she made it recently but will be appreciated by your friends and family. Thank you, Judy, and thanks to your tasters, Malcolm and Ainsley too.
NOTE: This recipe has been edited for clarification… If you copied it, please check it out again! Sorry about that.
Blanquette de veau
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
2-1/2 lbs. veal shoulder (cut into 2-inch cubes) NOTE: To save time have the butcher cube the veal for you. You will need to get this from a specialty butcher anyway.
2 carrots (sliced into chunky sticks)
2 leeks (sliced, white part only)
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves (sliced)
2 small shallots (sliced – keep one half uncut)
1 celery stalk (sliced)
1/2 pound white mushrooms
1/3 pound pearl onions (peeled)
4 tbsp white wine (optional)
2 tbsp butter (or olive oil, for frying the mushrooms)
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
For the bouquet garni:
A bunch of thyme
One bay leaf
A few sprigs of parsley
For the sauce:
A few squeezes of fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup crème fraîche
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
2 egg yolks
Chop the carrots into chunky sticks, coarsely slice the onion, shallots, leeks, celery, and garlic. (Tip to peel pearl onions: trim the root and put in a heat-proof dish, pour boiling water over them and let stand about 4-5 minutes, then plunge into cold water. The skins will peel right off.) Keep half a shallot and stick the cloves in.
Make a simple bouquet garni with a few sprigs of thyme, parsley and bay leaf (tie with some twine or wrap in cheesecloth).
Blanch the cubed veal in about 8 cups of boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, shallots, garlic, bouquet garni and all the other vegetables– except mushrooms and pearl onions but including the half shallot with cloves. Add the wine. Bring to a soft boil for 2 minutes. Season with salt. Cover and cook on a low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Remove all the meat, bouquet garni, vegetables and set aside. Cover to keep them warm. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving four cups of broth. Then boil down the broth to 2 cups for the sauce.
In a saucepan melt ¼ c. butter and add 1/3 c. flour, cooking over low heat until smooth and golden. Add the stock from the pot and cream. Pour the roux sauce into the blanquette pot. Mix well with a whisk and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat, until the stew sauce starts to slightly thicken. Return the veal and strained veggies to the pot and simmer about 15 minutes.
At the same time, sauté the sliced mushrooms and peeled pearl onions in 2 T butter. Drizzle with Lemon juice and add to blanquette.
In a separate bowl combine the crème fraiche, lemon juice, and 2 egg yolks. Add 1 – 2 ladles of blanquette sauce to the bowl – you don’t want to curdle the eggs. Stir well, then add to the blanquette. Warm through and serve immediately with rice. Garnish with parsley.
NOTES: Two-and-a-half pounds of veal shoulder before trimming was plenty for 6 people. The ancient version of this recipe recommends pasta instead of rice. Sometimes even potatoes are used as a base.
Judy says: This was time-consuming, but OMG so good!