julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Give ’em Some of That Deep Shoulder Action

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“With enough butter, anything is good.” – Julia Child

A few days ago I made a veal roast, which the butcher actually cut especially for me. (Ooooh, special!) It was Julia’s recipe for Veau Poele a la Matignon (casserole-roasted veal with diced vegetables), and it was pretty tasty! My favorite part was the sauce that was served on top, but I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Who needs veal? This looks good to me!

I browned my veal shoulder roast in a large pan with butter and oil. Once it was browned on all sides (which took some fancy tong work, let me tell you), I set it aside on a plate out of the way so I could work on the vegetables. Into the pan I added diced carrots and onions and more butter, cooking until they were tender (about 10 minutes). Next I added some Madeira and boiled it all down until it had nearly evaporated, and then back in went the meat (salted and peppered). I basted the meat with some of the butter and covered it with some of the veggies, and topped it off with a couple of pieces of blanched bacon (which I made while the veggies were cooking). I then covered the whole shebang with foil (yep, you heard me – shebang) and a lid and popped it into a 325-degree oven for about 45 minutes, basting the meat at 15-minute intervals. 

Blurry Brussels sprouts - my fave!

While the meat was doing its thing, I decided to make some Choux de Bruxelles Etuves a la Crème (creamed Brussels sprouts) and some steamed new potatoes with Beurre Blanc – Beurre Nantais (white butter sauce). The sprouts were really easy. I blanched them in salted water (not long enough, however, and so the end result was crispier-than-intended sprouts…lesson learned), and then set them heads-up in a buttered casserole dish, sprinkling them with salt, pepper and a light drizzling of melted butter. I covered them with buttered wax paper and braised them in the oven for about 10 minutes, then added boiling cream to the dish and recovered it, cooking for another 10 minutes. 

The butter sauce was even easier than the sprouts. I boiled some water with white wine vinegar, vermouth, minced shallots, salt/pepper and a tablespoon of butter. Once it had reduced, I turned off the heat and stirred in two pieces of cold butter. As it absorbed into the water, I added more, turning the heat on low and continuing to add butter until the mixture was a pale yellow. 

A meat lover's dream.

Finally the meat was ready to come out of the oven, and I carefully removed it to a side dish. I added a bit of beef stock to the pan and brought it to a simmer, then removed the bacon. In went a bit of cornstarch to thicken things up and, off heat and at the last moment, I swirled in a little bit of butter. 

I sliced the veal on the bias (that means “on a diagonal”) and set two pieces on a plate, then spooned the thick sauce over the top, making sure to include some of the diced veggies. Everything looked and smelled terrific! A small helping of sprouts and a mashed new potato topped with butter sauce finished things off, and we were ready to dig in. 

Not bad, if I do say so myself!

The meat tasted really good, but I think the real star was the sauce. It was hearty and meaty and added a nice robust flavor to the meat. I stand by my original statement about veal – by nature, it’s a tough meat. Even so, this recipe was the best veal I’ve had so far. The Brussels sprouts were very tasty – the cream gave them a nice hint of flavor without drowning them in liquid – but I wish I’d let them blanch longer. They were a little too firm, even for me. The butter sauce was the last thing I tried, and while I thought it was good, I will tell you that a little goes a long way. The vinegar makes it really tangy, so I wouldn’t recommend pouring it on. Luckily I had barely drizzled my potato, so the strength of the sauce was just right – not overpowering, and giving the bland potato a nice kick. I think this sauce would probably be better on something else, like asparagus, but it wasn’t bad on the starch. 

All in all, I give this meal a thumbs-up. It wasn’t the most fabulous dinner I’ve created, but it was certainly good. And it marks another 3 recipes off our list! I love the feeling of productivity, don’t you? Sometimes I make lists just so I can cross things off and feel a sense of accomplishment. 

I know. I have issues. 

Stay tuned for something sweet coming your way… 

Happy cooking!

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