Stew Note:
French Chef
10 April 2018

ΒΆ I made blanquette de veau again, following Mme St Ange’s recipe for the third time. Actually, I was following my own recipe; I had written out an adaptation in Evernote, so that it was available on my iPhone. I’m still a little frightened of the method, which is so foreign to everything that I’ve ever done with meat. For example, boiling it. Well, not boiling it, exactly, but simmering. No frying!

The first half hour of the preparation involves standing over a pot of veal cubes in hot water set on a medium-low flame. After about five minutes, the water begins to get cloudy, which is very discouraging, but then the cloud precipitates into tiny white flecks, like miniature snow, and as these flecks agglutinate into scum, the water clears up. Every time you skim off the scum, Mme St Ange instructs, you add a bit of cold water as a way, she says, of keeping the production of scum going. At long last, there isn’t any more, and if anything the water is even clearer than at the start. 

And boiling mushrooms! I’ve never done that. But when the quartered mushroom caps are cooked (in about five minutes), I remove them with a slotted spoon to the bowl with the meat, which has by now been cooked in the oven with aromatic vegetables. Into the mushroom liquid I dump all the stems and peelings, and when the mushroom broth has absorbed their flavors, I add it to the broth, which has by now been poured onto a light roux. There is a lot of liquid, and reduction to sauce thickness takes nearly an hour and a half. When the sauce is nearly done, I thicken it a bit with an egg yolk and cream. 

The mushroom broth, I find, gives the sauce a bit of color. And of course the great mushroom umami

The first time I made the blanquette, I served it on top of tagliatelle. Not great. The second time, rice. Better. This time, I forgot to cook the rice and at the last minute simply toasted some good bread. Best of all. 

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