Saturday, December 14, 2013

Veal Scallopini with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Italian-Americans often serve classic Italian dishes for the holidays.  In my family we frequently had pasta for Christmas and pork for the New Year celebration, as was the custom of the German immigrants in our area.  This year I'm serving up Veal Scallopini with a rich, silky mushroom cream sauce.

Julian's Veal Scallopini with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Of course a good mushroom cream sauce will go with just about anything, but one of my favorites is veal.  By quickly browning the veal, then topping with the cream sauce, you will have very tender veal with a mild sauce just perfect this time of the year.  I love the flavor and texture you get when you combine the veal with cooked mushrooms and cream.  You can of course substitute chicken if you prefer.

So easy to make, I prepare it in all seasons.
Because veal scallopini is pounded out quit thin, it’s easy to over cook.  If you do over cook it, you’ll turn the tender, delicate veal into a tough unappetizing piece of meat.  Veal this thin takes only 2-3 minutes total cooking time if your skillet is hot enough to begin with.

Julia Child is well known for adding her mushrooms to a dish near the end.  She preferred, or perhaps was trained, to like them more firm.  To my mind however, they are better more fully cooked when they have released their flavorful fluids into your sauce and lose that somewhat slimy but firm texture. The choice is of course yours.

When choosing your menu remember that, because both the veal and the sauce is rich, relatively small servings and lighter side dishes are in order.  My Italian butcher sells veal already pounded thin and cut into portions.  If yours does not then you will start by placing the meat between sheets of plastic wrap and pounding it thin.  You should plan on about two pieces per person or a bit more if you have big holiday eaters.

Veal Medallions Cut and Pounded Thin by Butcher

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

1 pound veal medallions (approximately)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 small onion diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms (any type)
1 clove garlic diced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and pepper


Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.  Sprinkle veal lightly with salt and pepper.  Add olive oil and one tablespoon of butter to a fry/saute pan and heat over high heat. Lightly flour enough of the veal medallions to fit into your pan. Do not over-crowd the pan. Do not flour the remainder until ready for cooking. Quickly brown the veal on one side (no more than 2 minutes) then turn and cook for one minute more on the other side. Remove to an oven safe platter and cover with foil.  Saute any remaining veal using the same technique.  Add a little more oil if necessary.  Transfer all veal to the platter, cover with foil and place in the warm oven.

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Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan along with the diced onions and saute for a minute or two, then add the mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cook until the liquid from the mushrooms is mostly evaporated. Stir in the garlic.  

Add the white wine and de-glaze the pan (stirring loose any brown bits stuck to the pan, as these are a flavor powerhouse.)  Add the chicken stock and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half. Add the dried tarragon and the Dijon mustard and stir to combine, then stir in the cream.  Cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.  Taste and add salt/pepper as necessary.

Remove the veal from the oven and top with the cream sauce.  Garnish with dried parsley and serve.

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