Blanquette de veau à l’ancienne

Blanquette de veau à l’ancienneOne winter, when we had lunch at brasserie Le Commerce — what was to become one of our favorite restaurants in Autun, the kind frequented mostly by locals — I started with a cocotte of snails in a garlicky cream sauce. They were so good! The sauce was thick and velvety and I mopped it up with thick chunks of bread. As though that wasn’t enough cream and calories, for my main course, I chose the blanquette de veau à l’ancienne. It was my first time trying this classic French dish and I absolutely fell in love with it. Tender chunks of veal blanketed in a smooth, mild sauce with a side of fluffy, white rice. The epitome of comfort food! Every time we go back on a wine trip through Bourgogne, we always stop at Le Commerce and you can be sure that I will order blanquette de veau.
Oddly enough, it has taken me way too long to try my hand at my own version. But last night, I proudly served a blanquette de veau that was heaven on earth. Make this dish on a cold, winter night. I promise you, the first bite will feel like falling in love.

 

Blanquette de veau à l’ancienne
Serves 4

  • 700g veal shoulder, cubed
  • 1 ½ L water
  • 1 onion, peeled and studded with 2 cloves
  • 2 carrots, peeled and in large chunks
  • 1 leek, in large chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp mixed peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 225g mushrooms, small ones halved, large ones quartered
  • 6 small shallots, halved
  • 30g butter
  • 30g flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100ml crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • rice, to serve
  • parsley, to garnish

Rinse the veal really well under cold running water. Place the chunks in a large heavy-bottomed casserole and cover with the water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Skim off any scum and then stir in the onion, carrots, leek, bay leaf, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, nutmeg and salt. Cover and cook gently for 2 hours. About 20 minutes towards the end of the cooking time, get your rice going. In a large saucepan, gently fry the mushrooms (they should not color) in 1 tbsp of the butter for 5 minutes and set aside in a bowl. Soften the shallots in the other tbsp of butter. Do this gently too, nothing should color in this dish. Drain the meat and vegetables, making sure to reserve 500ml of the stock. Reserve the meat and the carrots. In the saucepan where you fried the mushrooms and shallots, melt the butter over a medium heat and whisk in the flour. Add the hot stock while whisking. Once the sauce is thick, cook for 5 minutes gently. Return the meat and carrots to the pan. Also add in the mushrooms and shallots. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Whisk the egg yolk, crème fraîche and lemon juice (this is called a liaison) in a small bowl. Add this to the sauce while stirring well with a wooden spoon. The dish should be barely simmering. Leave on the heat for 5 more minutes while stirring occasionally. Serve with rice and a sprinkle of parsley.

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