Friday, June 30, 2006

The Real Deal in a Veal Meal

Went in search of veal cutlets a couple of days back and found a nice rack at Espirito Santo's outlet in Great World City (basement 2). Requested for 2 cutlets (one for me and one for hubby).. and nearly fainted at the cashier - the two cutlets (albeit, each between 1-inch to 1 and 1/2-inch thick with a dimension bigger than my palm) cost me close to S$35, sheesh... I could buy 6 whole chickens for the same amount of $$. No wonder they cost an arm and a leg when you order a veal rack in a highfalutin restaurant.
Veal Meal
Generally, veal refers to meat from a young calf of less than 1 year old. Milk-fed veal is supposedly the best quality veal as these young calves (from 1 to 3 months old) have not as yet been weaned from their mother's milk, resulting in tender meat that is creamy white with a pale pinkish hue. In older calves who have started dining on grass, the color of their meat is a deeper shade of pink moving towards darker red hues and gets tougher in texture.

The veal cutlet that I bought could not have been 'milk-fed veal' as it had a deeper shade of pink but the texture was finely grained and tender - so, maybe it was a slightly older calf (more than 3 months old) but instead of feeding on grass, had been 'formula-fed' (I kid you not - it's just like babies being fed formula powder after being weaned off their mothers' milk) with some kind of milk substitute containing the necessary nutrients for growth.

As the veal cutlet is generally a very tender and lean cut of meat, it is usually recommended that the cutlet be pan-seared and grilled or cooked to no more than medium doneness to retain its delicate texture. When in 'lazy mode', I would just season the meat with salt and ground black pepper, and leave it aside for half an hour before grilling. In fact, this is all the seasoning that is required for good quality meat.

But there are times when a little adventure in experimentation is called for - after seasoning the veal cutlets with salt and pepper, I further marinaded the cutlets in an emulsion made from combining juice from half a lemon together with 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of sugar, a dash of salt and pepper (in fact, almost like a salad dressing), for half an hour or so. The veal remained tender and flavorful when grilled, as the lemon juice acts almost like a meat tenderizer.

Without the luxury of open space (as in an external garden area) for a full-blown grill, most of my grilling is done on my Le Creuset cast iron grill skillet pan, which is excellent for heat distribution and retention and sears lovely grill marks onto meat (just look at the top pic). The only issue I have with this pan is removing the stubborn food residue - sometimes I'm so afraid of scouring too hard and scratching the matt black enamelled surface that I end up using my fingernails to pick at the burnt stuff and that is so so BAD for my manicure!

The grilled veal cutlets were topped with 'gremolata' to add a fresh zesty taste (okay, don't deny it - bet you're wondering what's that 'g' word) - and here's a little bit of trivial information for the foodie:
Gremolata (greh-moh-LAH-tah) is basically a garnish made from a mixture of minced parsley, finely chopped lemon peel and garlic (usually added as a garnish to osso bucco) for a fresh lemony fragrance and taste.
Medium Rare

For the vegetable side, french beans cooked in boiling water for about 4 to 5 minutes - not too long, the beans should be cooked until tender but retaining that crunchy texture of vegetables. Remove beans from the pot and drain. In a pan, I heated a tablespoon of olive oil and added the beans together with a handful of toasted sliced almonds, season with salt and butter and serve alongside the veal cutlets.

A great dinner, with every single chomp of that veal cutlet worth the full price paid, including damaged manicure!


Anonymous umami said...

Last week I went to GWC to have my nails done and was very happy to see this meat shop operating there. Picked up some sausages, quite dear but worth it, they tasted real good.

7/01/2006 12:33:00 AM  
Anonymous evan said...

oh wow, the meat look so succulent cath! yums.

7/01/2006 12:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Tanna said...

Sheesh, I'd say the $35 price tag was cheap considering the pictures you got are priceless! Those are fantastic!
I really do love that Le Creuset cast iron grill skillet pan, actually I love all my Le Creuset. And I also have a hard time not over cleaning mine. I think it really says to leave some of that stuff on there to create the non-stick effect.

7/01/2006 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

@ umami, yup, i love the sausages too, especially the rosemary lamb sausages.

@ evan, it was wonderfully tender and juicy :-)

@ tanna, I think you're right about leaving some of that black stuff - wonder if that's what they call 'seasoning' the pan.. but cleaning habits can sometimes be difficult to break :P

7/01/2006 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger Audrey Cooks said...

Cath, I hv been looking for veal in Kuala Lumpur but to no avail since your osso bucco post. I substituted it with beef shin for a more tender chewy bite but of course nothing like the real thing!

This veal cutlet, I can imagine the taste already. Must go hunting for veal again! Chuckle

7/01/2006 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

dear audrey, beef shin is good too but with veal shanks comes the wonderful marrow within the bone that is just so 'suckable' (if there's such a word!)... good luck on your hunt!

7/02/2006 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Audrey Cooks said...

oh my gosh! just luv bone marrow! I feel guilty everytime I dig it out cos my dog luvs it too :D

7/02/2006 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous spots said...

sheeh that's expensive! but it looks good - hey next time, try adding some truffle oil to the veal cutlets, jus before cooking. the taste will be mind blowing - truffle oil is expensive tho. but since ur cutlets already so expensive - ah heck why not right/?? :)

7/02/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Anonymous slurp! said...

*ouch!* i could survive for several days on street food with that amount $$$. but sometimes you just gotta splurge yourself on these gorgeous goodies. well I'm intending to splurge on other non-edible stuffs :P

ahhh ... looks like more & more gourmet stuffs are sprouting all over this little red dot. i need to take a note of these outlet, it sure to come in handy one day :D

interesting & useful information on Veal. looks like i'm reading the wrong website(s) all along.

btw, would you consider that Rare or medium rare?

7/02/2006 11:27:00 PM  
Anonymous pfong said...

Loved the title to your post :-)

7/03/2006 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger J said...

hi cath, beautiful pictures of beautiful veal...i giggled as i read about your sticker-shock ;) i have a near cardiac arrest every time i get to the cashier's at swiss butchery with my precious few osso buchi

7/03/2006 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Precious Moments said...

Drooling drooling is all i can say.

7/03/2006 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

@audrey... if I had a dog, I wouldn't be sharing my veal shank marrow with it (so, it's a good thing I don't have a dog) heheheh!

@spots... truffle oil! what luxury! 'mind-blowing' you say... now I'm really curious!

@slurp.. I would consider my pic's meat to be at medium rare... rare, to me, would have blood oozing out from the veins of the meat (a bit too carnivorous in form for me)!

@pfong, thanks.. glad u noticed :)

@j.. yeah, I've been having a couple of that, what with veal shanks and veal cutlets recently, not to mention the various sausages that I've tried.. should stop visiting Espirito Santo's but spotted kurobuta pork recently.. major debate goin' on in my head now!

@PM, thanks.. shall I pass you a napkin? lol

7/03/2006 10:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i love your food pix. Beautifully taken. I'm just wondering if you know how veal came about? It's really not a good idea to comsume veal.. here's why

8/25/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great website... right under the "information" thats provided it goes on to say all people who eat meat get cancer, have low IQs, and believe in the Tooth Fairy. Im marinating my veal cutlets right now. Most major companies have veal that is not caged. We passed laws in most states, and while it isnt quite the flavor as the old veal, it is still a very good meat. I am going to marinate them as you did here, and then grill them for a minute or two. Hope they look half as good as yours!

3/21/2007 03:03:00 AM  

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