This is a creamy veal stew. It’s easy to make and it’s typical French winter comfort food. It’s been on my to-post list for quite a while now, and when I made it to write up the recipe, I realized once again just how delicious it is, with its creamy sauce and the flavors of meat and vegetables that meld together so wonderfully.
For the meat to reach the degree of tenderness required, it needs slow cooking. But even though the pot will simmer for a long while, the recipe is simple and quick to prepare. The other ingredients are pearl onions, carrots, and mushrooms, and of course you’ll need good bread to mop up the velvety sauce.
You can play on the recipe and vary it with other kinds of meat, like chicken, pork, or beef, for example. Just adjust the cooking time so that the meat is fork-tender when it’s done. And in fact, this is the secret of a blanquette: you can practically eat the veal not just with a fork, but with a spoon.
• 4 tablespoons / 60 g salted butter, divided
• 1 ¾ lb. / 800 g stewing veal, cubed and excess fat trimmed
• 2 tablespoons flour
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 5 bay leaves
• 2 sprigs thyme
• 1 veal bouillon cube
• 1 onion
• 4 cloves
• ½ lb. / 200 g pearl onions, peeled
• 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
• 10 button mushrooms (large, if possible)
• 1 ¼ cups / 300 ml crème fraîche (if you don’t have crème fraîche, make sure you don’t bring the blanquette to a boil once it’s added, otherwise it might curdle)
• freshly grated nutmeg
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place 3 tablespoons / 40 g of the butter in a large pot over fairly high heat.
As soon as it begins sizzling, add the veal.
Season generously with salt and pepper.
Ensure that the meat is lightly colored on all sides. If it renders any liquid, allow it to evaporate. When all the meat is completely seared, sprinkle in the flour.
Stir carefully to distribute it evenly. Keep stirring, gradually adding enough cold water to just cover the meat.
Add the bay leaves, thyme, and bouillon cube.
Cut the onion in half and stud each half with 2 cloves. Place in the cooking liquid.
Cover the pot with the lid and reduce the heat to minimum. Allow to simmer gently for 2 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. The smells that come wafting out will be mouthwatering.
Check the veal for doneness: it must be very tender. It it’s not, continue cooking it for a while, adding a little more water if necessary.
When the veal has reached the required degree of tenderness, remove it from the pot with the onion, bay leaves, and thyme. You can discard the aromatics at this stage.
Now put the pearl onions and carrot slices in the cooking pot.
To learn how to peel them easily, read the explanations here in the recipe for another hearty traditional dish, the Daube.
Wash the mushrooms briefly, trim the base of the stems, and slice.
It’s their turn for the pot.
Cook for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are all well cooked and the cooking liquid begins to reduce and take on a creamy consistency. Now stir in the crème fraîche.
Remove the vegetables and transfer them to the dish with the meat.
Again, season with salt and pepper and add the nutmeg. Test the seasoning and adjust if necessary, trying not to lap up too much of that delicious sauce.
Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl.
Beat them lightly with a fork. Gradually pour over a ladleful of hot sauce from the pot, stirring constantly. You’ll see that the sauce is still a little grainy.
Add the lemon juice.
Stir well, and whisk the contents of the mixing bowl into the sauce in the pot.
Add the remaining butter and stir well. Now the sauce is very creamy, and of course even tastier.
Return the veal and vegetables to the pot and keep warm until you serve your blanquette.
Serve with rice, pasta, or baked potatoes. You can make this dish a day ahead and reheat it. If the sauce isn’t smooth enough, add a little water.