Blanquette de Veau
Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking
Published by Bloomsbury USA
There are certain rules in the world of cooking. One of them is that color contrast is a good thing. A plate with too much white, for instance, cries out for some garnish, some color, something, anything, to distract the eye from all that monochrome. But not this dish. This dish is the exception to the rule. For a chef, it can be maddening to make it for the first time, as the natural impulse, the sum total of all one’s training, says “Put some carrot in there–a little chopped parsley, for God’s sake!” Resist the urge. It’s supposed to be white. All white. Keep it that way. It makes something of a statement.
If you have a pristine, clear veal stock handy, you can replace half the water with it for better flavor.
2 small pots
Total Timeunder 4 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturebuttery, creamy, meaty, rich, savory
- 1 pint (560 g) pearl onions
- 6 tbsp (84 g) butter
- 1 pint (560 g) small white button mushrooms
- 3 lb (1.35 kg) veal neck or shoulder, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) squares
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1 large onion, cut in half and studded with 4 cloves
- 1 carrot, cut in half
- 1 celery rib
- 4 tbsp (56 g) flour
- ½ cup (225 ml) heavy cream
- Salt and white pepper
- 1 egg yolk
- Juice of ½ lemon
Peel the pearl onions, place in a small pot, and cover with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon (14 g) of the butter and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Let it boil until the water evaporates (do not allow the onions to take on any color), then remove from the heat and set aside.
In the second small pot, repeat the procedure with the mushrooms, cooking them in water and 1 tablespoon (14 g) of the butter just until they are tender. Set aside.
COOK THE VEAL
Place the veal in the large pot. Cover with water and add the bouquet garni, onion, carrot, and celery. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let cook over low heat for 2 hours, periodically skimming away and discarding meat scum, until the veal is fork-tender (meaning it can be easily cut with the side of a fork). Do not undercook. Do not overcook to mush! Strain the meat and set it aside. Strain the broth and keep it hot over heat. Discard the bouquet garni and the vegetables.
In the medium pot, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons (56 g) of butter over medium heat, and once it has foamed and subsided, whisk in the flour, making sure it is completely incorporated. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Do not color the flour. (What you are doing, by the way–in case you didn’t know–is making a roux.) Gradually add 1 cup (450 ml) of the hot broth, whisking constantly to incorporate smoothly. Add the remaining broth and bring to a boil, cooking and stirring until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the veal, pearl onions, mushrooms, and cream. Stir. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and heat for 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper.
Just before serving, place the egg yolk in the small bowl and add about a ¼ cup (112 ml) of the hot sauce from the stew. Whisk well and add this mixture to the pot. Stir. Do not allow the sauce to come to a boil! Add the lemon juice, season again as needed, and serve with absolutely white rice.
2004 Anthony Bourdain