The Real Deal in a 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.
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!