Since we’ve decided to not cook babies in their mother’s milk, one of the dishes I’ve missed, among the many staples of butter and cream rich French cuisine, was a blanquette de veau. The problem of course, is that there simply is no substitute for butter and cream, both essential parts of a traditional blanquette. So my goal was not to try and copy the fresh, nutty taste of the blanquette of my childhood, but to go after a flavourful, light tasting version of it.
I set out to build my roux with a neutral tasting oil in lieu of butter (canola is what I had in the pantry). Well, It’s not really a roux since a blanquette calls for a white, not a browned, sauce (the name “blanquette” comes from the French word for “white”, meaning that neither the meat nor the butter base of the sauce are browned before cooking). When that turned out well, I knew there was hope. As for the cream, I omitted it altogether, and it was not missed.
In the end, the result was a light yet smooth tasting blanquette, very flavourful. Growing up, we cooked the blanquette in a pressure cooker, but it can also be slow cooked in a big stock pot. For Shabbat, I used my slow cooker on low overnight. I set it on Friday afternoon around 5:30 and turned it down to the “keep warm” setting first thing in the morning. Some of the meat ended up a bit dry, so next time I will put in more sauce and make sure I stir more often.
Now, for the recipe:
2 lb cubed veal
1 big onion
2 big carrots
1 celery stem
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper
For the sauce:
Vegetable oil (avoid olive oil though, because of its strong taste)
1) Peel all the vegetables, cut the onion in quarters and insert the 3 cloves in one of the quarters
2) Put the vegetables, the bay leaves an the meat in a big stock pot. Squeeze the half lemon and throw it in the pot
3) Cover completely with water, add salt and pepper, bring to a slow boil and cook on low for 45 mins.
4) After 45 mins, in a large saucepan, warm the oil (don’t heat it up to sizzling though)
5) Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour while stirring with a whisk, the mix will thicken quickly – do not let it brown
6) Ladle in some of the cooking broth, one ladle at a time, moving quickly, whisking as you go. Be careful not to grab any of the vegetables or pieces of meat, only the broth
7) When you get to a smooth, opaque sauce that coats the back of a spoon, take off the heat, taste, and correct seasoning if necessary
8) COOL TIP: Remove and freeze all remaining broth from the stock pot. You can freeze it in an ice cube tray to use as stock in other recipes.
9) Return meat and vegetables to stock pot, cover generously with the sauce and cook on very low heat for three to four hours.
10) Serve with plain white rice.
Let me what you think! Suggestions and questions gladly accepted 🙂