Magazine article Sunset

Cozy Blanquette

Magazine article Sunset

Cozy Blanquette

Article excerpt

* One of my favorite old-fashioned French classics is among the retro dishes appearing on the most chic restaurant menus across the country: blanquette de veau. A delicate, satisfying stew made of veal shoulder, it's quite easy to make--the simple process will bring some sanity into your kitchen during this busy month. You needn't brown the meat (so no spatters); just simmer it gently with a few herbs and spices in broth until it's tender. Then boil the juices briefly to concentrate their flavor, polish them off with a modest splash of cream, thicken them a little, and combine them with vegetables--mushrooms and onions--that have been glazed separately in a little butter to retain their form. The French serve blanquette de veau with almost anything that captures the good sauce, such as rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta. They might draw the line at soft polenta, but I don't.

Blanquette de Veau

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 3/4 hours

NOTES: To use a 4- to 6-quart electric slow cooker, combine ingredients for step 1, cover, and cook on high setting until meat is very tender when pierced, about 3 hours. Transfer meat and seasonings to the cooked mushrooms and pour juices into a 4- to 5-quart pan, then complete steps 3 and 4 on the stove.

MAKES: 6 servings

3 pounds boned veal shoulder, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks

2 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth

2 carrots (3 to 4 oz. each), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

3 or 4 whole cloves

2 dried bay leaves (3 to 4 in. long)

1/2 teaspoon white or black peppercorns

1 pound mushrooms (about 1-in-wide caps)

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 package (10 oz.) frozen cooked small onions (about 1 in. wide)

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt

1. Rinse meat and place in a 5- to 6-quart pan. Add broth, carrots, cloves, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, and simmer gently until meat is very tender when pierced, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

2. Meanwhile, rinse mushrooms; trim off and discard discolored stem ends. In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, melt butter; add mushrooms and onions, mix, cover, and cook, shaking pan or stirring often, until mushroom juices have evaporated and vegetables are beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. When veal is tender, transfer meat and seasonings with a slotted spoon to the pan with the mushrooms and onions (mounding, if necessary); discard cloves and bay leaves if desired. Add lemon peel and cream to the broth in the 5- to 6-quart pan and boil, uncovered, over high heat until reduced to 3 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in parsley.

4. In a small bowl, blend cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water until smooth; stir into boiling veal juices. Add lemon juice and the meat and vegetables; stir gently until meat is hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt to taste and ladle stew into wide bowls.

Per serving: 453 cal., 44% (198 cal.) from fat; 49 g protein; 22 g fat (11 g sat.); 13 g carbo (2.3 g fiber); 292 mg sodium; 230 mg chol.

Little bells

* At a food show last spring, a colorful display caught my eye. At first glance, I thought I was seeing mounds of fresh chilies. Closer inspection brought a sweet surprise: The shiny, bright red, yellow, and orange vegetables weren't chilies at all--they were bell-type peppers, similar in shape to fresh jalapeno chilies (with very few seeds). From 2 to 4 inches long, they make two or three bites--an ideal size for appetizers and salads. Stuffed with a rice filling and baked, they make a handsome, delectable garnish around a holiday bird or roast.

Master's Touch grows the little peppers in Mexico and Florida, labels them VineSweet Mini-Peppers, and distributes them year-round to chain supermarkets and warehouse stores such as Costco. …

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