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Veal1Veal is often in short supply, except in large towns. As it is very dry with little fat, veal requires careful cooking. On its own, veal tends to be bland, and sauces, stuffing and seasoning are often used to provide additional flavour to the tender succulent meat.

When buying veal, look for soft, finely grained and moist flesh, varying in colour from off-white to palest pink. Avoid flabby and wet veal, and also meat which is dry and brown or has a blue tinge or mottling. The lean should have a fine texture with a thin outside layer of firm, creamy-whirr fat. Bones should be soft and almost translucent. Do not be put off by what may seem an excessive amount of gelatinous tissue around the meat, this is a natural characteristic of the young, immature animal, and the tissues normally shrink and soften during cooking.

In Britain, most calves, which are milk-fed, are slaughtered at the age of three months. They have been reared on milk and fatty foods which help to produce white flesh. These calves give high-quality veal, but as it is extremely expensive it is sold almost exclusively to the hotel and restaurant trade, although it can be purchased from specialist butchers. Young calves, known as bobby calves and slaughtered before they are three weeks old, provide most veal for the home market. It is less expensive than milk-fed veal, but apart from the leg, this type of veal is more suitable for roasts, pie filling and stews and casserole.

Imported veal, mainly from Holland and Denmark, is also available. The flesh is usually paler in colour than home-killed veal, but it compares well in flavour with British quality veal.

Best end neck - A medium priced cut sold on the bone for roasting. It can also be boned, stuffed and rolled for roasting whole, but is more often sold as neck cutlets.

Best end neck cutlets - These cutlets should have the tip of the china-bone removed before being cut about 2.5 cm thick. Each cutlet should have a good round eye of meat, grill or fry, allowing two cutlets per person.

Breast - One of the most economical cuts of veal. It may be roasted on the bone or be boned, stuffed and rolled first. Cut into 2.5 cm thick strips, it is excellent for braising or stewing.

Escalopes - From the prime muscles of the leg, such as the topside. They are cut, with the grain, no more than 6 mm thick and beaten into thin slices.

Fillet - This lies at the top of the hind leg and is the most expensive of the veal cuts, usually weighing 225 - 350 gram. There is,however, no wastage, and it is both tender and delicately flavoured. It is normally cut into fillet steaks, but may also be larded and roasted whole.

Knuckle - One of the cheapest cuts, this comes from the lower part of the hind or fore leg. The hind knuckle is the more tender of the two, it can be slow roasted on the bone or cut into 3.8 - 5 cm pieces and used for osso bucco. The fore leg knuckle (shin) is only suitable for boiling, or it may be boned and cut up and used for stews and casseroles.

Leg - This is one of the largest and most expensive joints with plenty of meat to bone. The whole leg, after the hind knuckle has been removed, may be roasted on the bone. It is a very large joint, however, and usually the topside, known as cushion of veal,is cut off for escalopes, and the remainder boned and rolled for smaller roasting joints.

Loin - A prime cut,taken from between the best end and the leg. It is sold as a whole joint on the bone, and is also sold already boned and stuffed. Loin is suitable for roasting. It may also be cut into single bone portions, as individual chops.

Loin chops - Single bone portions, cut 2.5 cm thick and suitable for grilling and frying. They sometimes include the kidney.

Middle neck - An economical cut, but with a high proportion of bone.It is usually sold in cutlets for braising or stewing or boned as pie veal.

Scrag - Mainly sold in one piece for boiling or stewing. It is inexpensive, but there is a high percentage of bone to meat. Most butchers chop scrag and offer it for casseroles.

Shoulder - This is also known as the oyster of veal after the fore knuckle has been removed. It is the cheapest veal roasting joint, sold on the bone, but better boned, stuffed and rolled, ideal for a family meal.

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