I went to the Real Food Festival at Earl's Court last weekend (more on that in a later post), and was quickly enticed by a stall proffering pretty much every cut of veal you can imagine. It was run by Bocaddon Farm Veal, who sell welfare-friendly veal from a farm in South-East Cornwall. They had an offer on whereby if you spent £20 you got some free veal sausages, and I was drawn in. I have never seen so much veal before - I think my butchers do sell a variety of cuts, but I haven't seen them on display. It looked so fresh and colourful that I thought it would be a good investment. I did get some osso bucco (veal shin) from the organic butchers a while back, when it was on offer, and cooked it Italian-style with a saffron risotto. It was one of the best things I have ever cooked, rich and melting and incredibly satisfying, with that lovely bone marrow saved until the end. That was my first introduction to rose veal, and remembering it inspired me to end up with two packs of veal casserole, some Sicilian-style veal sausages, some veal mince and some veal and wild garlic burgers. When rose veal tastes so lovely, I don't understand why you'd want the hideously anaemic stuff from the continent. I once ate white veal in a brasserie in Paris before I fully understood how they get it so white, and I still feel guilty about it today. It makes me very glad that there are people out there determined to prove that welfare-friendly veal can be just as good - perhaps even better, because I always think a guilty conscience leaves a bad taste in your mouth (asparagus from Peru, anyone? Oh no, that bad taste might just be because I don't like asparagus...I'd forgotten already).
I had never casseroled veal before, nor does it seem to be a particular popular thing to do - I quickly had a look on the internet for inspiration, but there are very few veal casserole recipes around. So I decided to make up my own, using my osso bucco recipe as a basic idea.I browned the veal (about 800g, I think), added two carrots, two celery sticks, an onion and some garlic, finely chopped, sauteed it for a few minutes, poured in a glass of white wine and some chopped tomatoes (one tin), added a sprig of rosemary and two bay leaves, and poured over enough vegetable stock to cover the meat (I suppose in a restaurant you'd use veal stock, but it is ridiculously fiddly to make, and I thought chicken might overpower it a bit - I really wanted it to taste more of veal than anything else). It then cooked for two and a half hours, and I took the lid off the pan for the last half hour. It reduced perfectly - I didn't even have to boil the sauce. I served it on sliced firm polenta with a sprinkling of gremolata. My reasoning was that gremolata (chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest) is the perfect finishing touch to osso bucco, so why not to a casserole with the same elements as osso bucco? It was perfect - the sauce was rich and full of flavour, the veal was perfectly tender and the gremolata gave it a nice freshness.
For dessert we had grilled pineapple with a caramel, lime and vanilla syrup. The syrup was water, dark brown sugar, lime zest and a vanilla pod, boiled until thick, and poured over slices of pineapple that had been sprinkled with brown sugar and put under the grill. I figured we'd want something fruit-based after a casserole. With vanilla ice cream and some sprinkled desiccated coconut, it was a good idea.