I know nothing about veal...
- Katie Nell
As I was going through All About Braising that I checked out at the library, I was thinking that all of the veal recipes sound outstanding! But, I know nothing about veal as far as buying it, cooking it.
How expensive is it really?
Is it pretty easy to find? (I've never seen it in the local grocery stores... so do you have to go to a butcher? or even a specialty butcher?)
Thanks for any info!
Veal isn't that tricky...
I suspect your grocers store probably has a few select cuts, and probably some braise worthy cuts, too.
If you can't find them at the usual locations, try stores in more ethnic neighborhoods. Most of eastern Europe loves their veal- any Polish, German, Jewish, Russian, or Balkan stores will have many options. Ethnic Grocery stores tend to be cheaper, too.
Now that I mentioned the money... Veal tastes pretty good. If you want quality product, you will probably have to pay for it. I find that veal is generally about 1/3 more expensive than beef, but the braise-cuts, as in beef, are cheaper than the good steak cuts.
If you wind up at a great butcher shop, ask for their reccomendations- When I can, I buy Provimi veal- if you have any moral qualms about using veal, know that Provimi stuff is the least "disturbing." And it is consistant, widely available, and tastes great.
I am not familiar with the Braising cookbook you mentioned, but I bet you could try the recipes with pork, beef, or even some cuts of Turkey if you just wanted to try them out.
I would say for your first jaunt our, buy some lean pork loin and practice tour braising techniques, then go to a great butcher and learn more about the different types of veal available (Provimi, BOB, Domestic vs. Canadian, all that good stuff). Find a good cut and go for the gusto!
if you can't find veal, i would practice with pork shoulder rather than lean pork loin. pork shoulder is cheap as all get out and braises beautifully (because of all the fat and connective tissue that slowly melts away during the braise). whereas in my experience pork loin is not that good for braising (too lean, dries out) - better suited for a roast. (pork shoulder is also known as pork butt, picnic shoulder, and boston butt - who knows, maybe there is some slight difference between them but they are from the same part of the pig and all are good for braising.)
Indeed! I did not mean to imply that lean pork loin was as yummy as veal, or an ideal item for braising, per se.
Rather that Veal is quite lean and overbraising it is as undesireable as underbraising it- lean cuts are good to practice with to get the technique right.
Great, Now I made myself hungry... 2 hrs until lunch...
I haven't bought veal in a very long time, but remember that when I last did, one was supposed to buy only the lightest colored veal. Darker colored, i.e., more red, was said to be older, tougher veal.
Dunno if this is really true.
Katie, if I remember right, you live in the Bay Area, right? You may have to go to speciality shops to get it, because so many people get on their ethical high horses about veal that most places simply refuse to carry it for fear of blood being splattered on their windows, etc.
There is (was?) an ordinance in the City of Berkeley prohibiting commerce in veal within the city limits.
I would suggest trying to find a halal market, an Italian market, or else go to 99 Ranch or another Asian market -- I don't recommend kosher markets, only because the salting and soaking that makes meat kosher tends (in my opinion) to ruin the taste of the veal. When I was looking for veal in the People's Republic of Santa Monica, I had to specifically ask in the Italian market for "vitello" before they'd answer my question.
one thing i do know about veal is that it is a match made in heaven with lemon. personally, i feel that veal can never have too much lemon (whether juice or grated zest).