Blanquette de Veau Sous-Vide (Creamy Veal Stew)

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Blanquette de veau is a classic French dish that I was reminded of by Nadia. Visit her wonderful blog for a classic recipe. I’ve prepared a sous-vide version that turned out delicious.

Blanc is French for white, and so everything but the parsley in this recipe is ‘white’: veal, mushrooms, pearl onions, white sauce, and cream. Nothing is browned to maintain the creamy flavor and light color. It is also served with something ‘white’: potatoes or rice. By cooking the veal sous-vide it’s incredibly tender and succulent, and it is easier as veal can easily become dry when cooked the traditional way.

For some classic recipes, the veal is poached in water with aromatics, and then the resulting stock is used to make the sauce. Here I’ve made veal stock first to make the dish more flavorful.

To make this a full sous-vide recipe, I’ve also cooked the pearl onions and potatoes sous-vide. If you only have one sous-vide contraption, cook them first, then chill in ice water and reheat along with the meat for an hour to serve. Mushrooms can’t be cooked sous-vide because they can’t be vacuum sealed. 

Ingredients

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For 4 servings

600 grams (1.3 lb) veal shoulder

100 grams (1 cup) pearl onions

150 grams baby mushrooms

1 Tbsp lemon juice 

1 egg yolk

80 ml (1/3 cup) cream

salt and freshly ground white pepper 

50 grams (1/3 cup) flour

50 grams (3 1/2 Tbsp) butter

500 ml (2 cups) veal stock, from below

1/2 onion, 1/2 carrot, 1/2 stick celery, 1/2 leek (white part only)

bouquet garni: thyme, parsley, bay leaf

1 clove garlic

2 cloves

waxy potatoes, to serve

minced fresh flat leaf parsley, to garnish 

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For the veal stock  

500 grams (1.1 lb) veal shank with bone

1/2 onion, 1/2 carrot, 1/2 stick celery, 1/2 leek (white part only)

bouquet garni: thyme, parsley, bay leaf

1 clove garlic

1 tsp salt

Instructions

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Start with the stock. Cut the veal shank off the bone into pieces, and reserve the bone. 

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If you have meat grinder, grind the meat for the stock for better flavor extraction (optional).

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Put the (ground) veal and the bone in a pressure cooker or stock pot together with the aromatics. 

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Barely cover with water. 

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Bring to pressure and pressure cook for 2 hours, or bring to a boil, skim the scum off the surface, and simmer over low heat, covered, for 4 hours. 

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Afterwards it should look something like this. 

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Strain the stock through a fine sieve. 

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Many stock recipes are very precise about what you need to do (and not do) to obtain a clear stock, or prevent a cloudy one. As this stock will be used to make a white sauce, you don’t have to follow all those rules and you can get a better yield by squeezing out the meat and vegetables using an old but clean kitchen towel. (This is ‘forbidden’ in classic stock recipes as it causes a cloudy stock.)

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Now that the stock is ready, we can start with the actual dish. Bring a pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, cut the veal shoulder into cubes of about 4 cm (1.5″). When the water boils, add the veal cubes…

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…cook for 30 seconds or just until they have turned white…

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… then lift them out of the hot water with a strainer…

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… and plunge into (ice) cold water to stop the cooking. This step of quickly blanching the veal serves to prevent the formation of scum. Once cooled, refrigerate the meat until later. 

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Chop the onion, carrot, celery, leek, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and garlic. 

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Put the veal stock in a wide low pan, together with the chopped aromatics and 2 cloves. Bring to a boil… 

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…and simmer until the stock has been reduced to 2 cups. This step is optional and serves to concentrate the flavors, also because the veal will be cooked at a lower temperature than in a classic recipe that won’t extract as much flavor from the aromatics. 

Season with salt to taste, I used 1 teaspoon. 

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If using a chamber vacuum sealer, allow the stock with aromatics to cool to room temperature before vacuum sealing together with the veal cubes. It is easier to transfer everything into a sous-vide bag if using a cylinder (in this case a large measuring jug) and if the sleeve of the bag has been rolled up so it stays clean to get a good seal. 

Alternatively, use a ziploc bag and the water displacement method to seal veal, stock and aromatics. 

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Cook sous-vide for 24 hours at 74C/165F.

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To perl the pearl onions, bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the onions and cook for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water and peel. 

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Perl the potatoes and cut into pieces (it looks nicest to use small potatoes whole or cut into halves). Vacuum seal potatoes and pearl onions, and cook sous-vide for 90 minutes at 84C/183F. 

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Clean the baby mushrooms (or use regular button mushrooms and cut them into quarters) and put them in a saucepan. Barely cover with water and add some lemon juice to lower the pH of the cooking water. This will help the mushrooms to keep some bite (do not add salt).

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Bring to a boil…

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…and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the mushrooms are done. 

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When the veal has finished cooking sous-vide…

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…strain the stock and reserve…

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…and pick out the meat and wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm. 

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Melt 50 grams of butter in a casserole. When the butter foams, lower the heat and add 50 grams of flour. 

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Stir over low heat until the roux is cooked, about minute, making sure not to allow the roux to brown. 

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Now slowly add the hot stock while whisking…

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…and keep going until you’ve added all of the stock and the sauce is smooth. 

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Bring to a boil and add the mushrooms.

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In a bowl combine the egg yolk with about 2 tablespoons of cream, and whisk to mix. 

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Add a couple of tablespoons of the sauce and whisk to temper the egg yolk. 

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Add this mixture to the sauce to enrich it. 

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Add the remaining cream as well. 

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Stir over low heat without allowing the sauce to boil (which would curdle the egg yolk).

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Take the pearl onions out of the sous-vide and out of the bag…

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…and add them to the sauce. 

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Add the reserved veal as well. 

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Stir over low heat to heat everything through, until steaming hot but again without reaching a boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper. 

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Serve on preheated plates with the potatoes, and garnish with parsley. 

Wine pairing

This is great with a creamy soaked white, such as a Chardonnay (preferably from Burgundy and with 5 or more years of bottle aging), or a semillon. 

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