18 June 2012

British Rose Veal in a mushroom, tarragon & cider sauce

I'm going against my self-inflicted conventions in writing to tell you all about this veal dish so soon after making it - and I hope you realise that it's sending my inner English teacher into a flat spin.  However, I had to bump it up the list of "things requiring blogging about", as it was so good!

Over the course of the last few weeks, you may have noticed my interest in the whole process of the production of British Rose Veal.  Now just in case you've missed all the furore, you can catch up and get in the swim by having a peep at this post and this one, which will save me having to bore everyone else by going on about it all over again.

Beautifully lean and close-textured
As a result of all this, I was offered a pack of British Rose Veal to sample and devise some interesting recipes with, by the lovely people at Farmer's Choice Free Range from Fareham in Hampshire.  Not surprisingly, I said "yes please!" and was the very grateful recipient of some minced veal (probably destined for burgers, unless we have a brilliant idea in the meantime), some veal escalopes (currently the subject of a battle between Wiener Schnitzels and a stuffed, rolled veal dish) and two roasting joints - the larger of which is destined for a Sunday roast and the smaller of which was used in today's recipe.

Now, first of all, let me put my hands up and admit that I had not sampled veal before last Saturday when I made this dish.  Up until very recently, I was one of the millions who believed that veal was ethically undesirable due to its production techniques.  Having seen the light, I have been as keen as proverbial mustard to get my paws on some to try.

Having done so - tried some, that is - I can quite categorically say that I love it.  I have always liked beef and so the transition to liking veal really wasn't that difficult.  It does have a different flavour from beef (which I was glad about, to be honest, as it would be a bit of a disappointment to find that it was just a paler version) and we are still trying to put our fingers on the complete range of flavour.  However, the best I can do at the moment (other than say "well, it just tastes like veal") is to say that the flavour is somewhere between the strength of beef and the sweetness and mildness of a piece of lean pork, with a good bite to it.  Veal doesn't melt on your tongue, but then neither is it as robust as a slice of roast beef would be.  It has almost a crispness where the bite is concerned and a very irony finish to the flavour that is nothing like as powerful as liver, but has a liverish note to it.  Veal is also a very satisfying meat to consume, in that you know you've eaten something at the end of it!

The recipe that I devised for the veal, it would appear, has been done before (not surprisingly) and the additional flavours of the cider, chestnut mushrooms and tarragon lived very happily alongside it.  I can see it also being happy to accompany some chestnuts at Christmas and roasted root vegetables.

I was a little bit disappointed in the sauce/gravy as it lost a lot of thickness in the oven, so I have reflected the alteration to the cooking method in the recipe below to take account of that.  Hopefully this way will provide a sauce with some body, but I will own up and say that I haven't tried it as yet - so let me know if it lets you down!

So, having had this first go at British Rose Veal, I am even more firmly of the opinion that everyone should have the opportunity of accessing it.  If the farmers can support the production, I'm quite sure that having tasted it, many people would be following in my stead and be keen to buy either direct from the farm or from a supplier.  Don't go looking for veal in your local supermarket - have a look online and see if there's anyone near you who can supply you with some.  If more of us could do that, I'm sure the demand would increase and prices would reduce - which can only be good for everyone.


Ingredients :

1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium (or 1 large) onions, chopped finely
100g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1kg piece of roasting veal , cut across the grain into 8-10 steaks
500ml (or slightly less) medium cider
1 tsp dried tarragon or slightly more if using fresh, chopped
2 tbsp creme fraiche
finely ground black pepper, to taste
a Knorr vegetable Stock Pot or 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
2-3 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp water.

Method :

1.  Pre-heat your oven to 180degC/350degF/Gas4.  In a large flat-bottomed frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions.  Cook the onions until transparent and just beginning to brown.  Add the mushrooms and cook them gently until they are beginning to soften.  Remove the onions & mushrooms to a warmed dish and retain.

2.  You may need to add a little more oil while you increase the heat under the pan and seal off the veal steaks.  You aren't looking to cook them through - and they will cook incredibly quickly - so keep a close eye on them.  Some thirty seconds a side in a blisteringly hot pan should be enough to colour each side.  You will need to cook them in batches, so as not to overload the pan and reduce its temperature.  Place the steaks into a casserole dish to keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

3.  Return the onions and mushrooms to the pan and add a good two thirds of the bottle of cider.  Allow to bubble and give it a good stir, to release the flavours and de-glaze the pan.

4.  Add the tarragon and some finely ground black pepper.  Stir to combine.

5.  Reduce the heat and when the mixture has slowed down to a simmer, add the creme fraiche and the contents of the Knorr Stock Pot (or the vegetable bouillon powder).  Stir gently but well, to combine.

6.  Pour the mixture onto the veal steaks, cover and place into the oven for an hour and a quarter.

7.  When the time is up, remove the casserole dish from the oven and drain off the gravy into a saucepan.  Put on a medium heat to simmer and in a separate small bowl, mix the cornflour together with the tablespoonful of water.

8.  Stirring constantly, pour the cornflour mixture into the gravy which should immediately thicken.  If it doesn't thicken to your preference, simply add a little more cornflour.  Make sure to stir well as you add the cornflour, or you'll land up with a blob of half cooked cornflour and a thin sauce!

9.  Once your sauce is to the consistency you prefer, serve up the steaks and pour over the sauce.

Printable version


  1. I love veal so I'm glad that we can buy ethical veal now in the UK. This looks delicious.

    1. Thanks! :) Buying direct from the farm or a supplier makes so much more sense than going to a supermarket, too.


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