Blanquette de Veau
The French have a way of making the most commonplace food extra special, for instance stew. Americans are used to beef stew made with beef that is first browned, then stewed with vegetables in a thick brown beef stock. The French "kick it up a notch" with the veal stew known as Blanquette de Veau.
According to Larousse Gastronomique, "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." The veal is not browned, but rather blanched then added to a light chicken stock and thickened with heavy cream. I prefer using coconut cream for thickening. I cook the Blanquette in a slow cooker which takes about five hours total on low heat.
The first set of large-cut vegetables are added to the stew for flavoring, then discarded. The slender carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms are added later and are served with the veal. Although potatoes are not a traditional ingredient in Blanquette de Veau, I like to cook some tiny Baby Yukon Gold potatoes separately for guests to add if they choose. I save the water used for poaching the veal to make the chicken stock and to boil the tiny potatoes. You'd be amazed at how much veal flavor there is retained in the poaching liquid!
BLANQUETTE DE VEAU
3 pounds veal stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into quarters
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 celery rib, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken broth (1 tub of Knorr Homestyle Concentrated Chicken Stock)
6 thin organic carrots, peeled and sliced into 3-inch lengths
1/2 package frozen Bird's Eye white pearl onions
8 ounces sliced white button mushrooms
3 tablespoons cornstarch
5.4 ounce can of coconut cream (or 1/2 cup heavy cream)
Special equipment: Slow Cooker
Bring a medium pot of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Blanch half of the veal pieces for 2 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Blanch the remaining veal for two minutes and transfer to the bowl, retaining all the water in the pot.
Place the veal, large carrot chunks, quartered onion, celery, garlic and bay leaves into a slow cooker. Add 4 cups of chicken broth. NOTE: For this recipe, I use 1 tub of Knorr concentrated stock mixed with 4 cups of the water used to blanch the veal - this gives a much more intense veal flavor to the stew. Save any extra water for cooking the baby potatoes.
Bring the mixture to a boil, set the slow cooker on low, cover and cook for four hours.
Remove large vegetable pieces from the stew and discard (or enjoy as a little snack!). You don't have to worry about removing all of the pieces, as they will just melt into the sauce as the stew continues to cook.
Add the 6 slender carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms to the veal in the slow cooker. Continue to cook on low for an additional hour.
When the stew is done cooking, using a slotted spoon remove the veal and vegetables into a large bowl, leaving all the liquid in the slow cooker. In a small bowl dissolve 3 tablespoons cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water. Stir the cornstarch mixture and the coconut cream into the stew and simmer, stirring constantly, until the stew begins to thicken.
Return the veal and vegetables to the slow cooker and reheat until hot.
Serve with baby whole Yukon gold potatoes that have been cooked until tender in the reserved liquid used to poach the veal.
Serve this delicate French stew with a light to medium bodied red Bordeaux wine.