Let’s try some classic French recipes… I’m not going to start you off with beef tongue or frog legs, I’m a firm believer in easing you in slowly. (Plus… I’m not sure I’m ready to try those things yet… at least, not after cooking them myself).
Instead, below I’ve chosen one of my favorite winter-time traditional French recipes to share with you: Blanquette de Veau (veal stew). This comes from a trusted favorite cookbook, Revisitez Vos Classiques (Revisit your classic dishes), by French chef Laurent Mariotte.
The lemon juice in the sauce really revs up the flavor in a smooth and unexpected way. Seriously… MAKE THIS DISH. You will blow your friends and family away. When they ask where you found the recipe, just say “La France, where else!”
- 1.5k (3.3lbs) veal, cut into 5cm squares
- 50g (3.5 Tbs) butter
- 2 carrots
- 1 onion
- 1 bouquet garni (bundle of dried thyme, bay, parsley)
- 1 clove
- 1 Tbs vegetable oil
- 1 Tbs coarse salt
- 10 black peppercorns
- 250g (1/2 lb) mushrooms
- 18 mini onions (called grelots in France)
- 30g (2 Tbs) butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 100g (1/3 cup) crème fraiche
- Juice of ½ lemon
1. Prepare your vegetables
Peel carrots and cut into thin slices. Peel the onion, and shove a clove in it (I put 2 in just for symmetry…)
Brown your veal
In a cocotte, heat the 50g butter and oil for 1 minute over medium heat. Add the pieces of veal and brown them on all sides.
Get everything together
Add the carrots, onion (clove side down), bouquet garni, peppercorns, and salt. Cover 1cm above veal with water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes.
Make the topping
First, pre-heat the oven to 60C.
Peel the mini onions. This is a HUGE pain in the you know what, so I would suggest enlisting your best friend, significant other, child, or random person off the street to help you out.
Clean mushrooms and cut into quarters. In a pan, sauté mushrooms and mini onions with the butter for 8-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, then reserve in the warm oven in an oven dish (this is just to keep them warm, not to cook them).
Now, make the sauce
in a bowl, mix egg yolks, crème, and lemon juice.
Remove the pieces of veal, carrots, and onion from the cocotte, and place them in the oven dish with the garniture. Remove the bouquet garni and discard.
Pour the egg yolk mixture into the remaining cooking juice, turn on very low heat and let thicken – stir constantly, otherwise you’ll end up with glorified scrambled eggs. Not saying that’s a bad thing in general… but avoid it for this recipe. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Salt and pepper to taste.
Plate and serve your French blanquette
Pour the sauce on top of the veal and vegetables, and serve immediately with rice.