Learn All About Preparing Veal in a Safe and Delicious Way.
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Veal is a high-quality protein source and is rich in essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B-12, niacin, zinc and selenium. A 3-ounce serving of cooked, trimmed lean veal has just 170 calories, making it one of the most nutrient-dense protein foods around.
Veal is not only delicious and nutritious, but it is also easy to prepare. Click on one of our recipes for a quick and easy meal solution, or create your own veal masterpiece using one of the traditional cooking methods.
The Secret to Veal Success
You don’t have to be an expert chef to create a delicious meal using veal. It can be sautéed, stir-fried, braised, stewed, grilled or broiled. Choosing the right method of preparation is important. But regardless of how you choose to prepare your veal, just keep one thought in mind: The key to veal is not to overcook.
- Executive Chef, Ritz-Carlton Dining Room, Boston, Massachusetts
Look for veal that is creamy pink in color with a fine-grained texture. If there is fat covering, it should be milky white. There should be very little if any fat marbling. Be careful to choose packages that are cold, tightly wrapped and without punctures or tears. Do not purchase packages that have excessive juice. Remember that there is a proper way to cook each different cut of veal for maximum flavor and tenderness. Be sure to purchase cuts that require cooking methods with which you are comfortable.
Refrigerate veal in the coldest section of the refrigerator. It is recommended that you plan to cook the veal within 1 – 2 days. Veal can be frozen and defrosted like any other meat. After purchase, freeze any veal that will not be used within 2 days. Make sure to label and date the packages.
Season to Taste
Veal’s delicate flavor is compatible with a variety of seasonings. For especially tasty veal, try garlic, lemon peel, black pepper, lemon pepper, fresh or dried herbs and Italian seasoning. You may be surprised to discover that fresh fruit salsas and dried fruit sauces also go well with veal. (See our in-depth chart for more great veal Seasonings and Companions)
There are a number of techniques for flavoring veal. The technique chosen may depend on the seasonings or ingredients used:
Apply herbs and spices to the outside of the meat before braising or grilling.
Soak meat in a mixture of oils, herbs and acidic ingredients such as juices, vinegar or wine. Marinating can also tenderize meat before cooking.
Sauce or Glaze:
Top meat with a blend of flavors while adding moisture.
Crust or Bread:
Coat meat, such as cutlets, in breadcrumbs, herbs or ground nuts.
Fill veal with an assortment of vegetables, herbs, nuts and cheeses.
Proper Preparation Before Cooking Veal
As we said before, veal is easy to prepare. But like any lean meat without much excess fat it is important to follow some basic preparation steps to get the best results:
Leave a thin layer of fat on roasts, chops and steaks to preserve juiciness; trim fat after cooking. Trim cuts for grilling more closely to avoid flare-ups.
Pound veal cutlets with the flat side of a meat mallet to a uniform thickness for even cooking.
Pat dry veal cutlets with a paper towel to promote browning.
Add salt and salty seasonings to veal after cooking or browning.
For moist, flavorful burgers, meatloaves and meatballs use a light touch when mixing and shaping.
The Correct Veal Cooking Temperature
Using too high a heat can lead to overcooking and dry, flavorless veal. Or you may char the outside before the center has a chance to reach desired doneness.
Here are some basic temperature guidelines:
Sauté, pan fry or stir fry cutlets over medium-high heat.
For the best braised or stewed dishes: brown slowly to develop rich flavor, cover tightly to retain steam, and simmer gently over a very low heat.
Grill over medium hot, ash-covered coals.
Pre-heat broiler for 10 minutes before broiling. Place the veal in the standard broiling distance from the heat source.
For optimal flavor, juiciness and tenderness, cook most veal cuts to medium (160 °F). Do not overcook. The most accurate way to determine doneness is with an instant-read thermometer.
To judge doneness visually, make a small slit near the bone or near the center for boneless cuts. Medium veal will be light pink in the center. Braised or stewed veal should be cooked just until the veal is fork-tender.
Sautéing is a quick-cooking method ideal for thinner cuts, like cutlets/scallops, ground veal or veal cut into strips. To prevent curling when cooking veal cutlets/scallops, trim excess fat, including the membrane around the slices. If necessary, using a meat mallet, pound veal scallops thin (1/8 inch), and coat with flour or breadcrumbs, if desired. Heat oil or butter in a skillet to medium heat. Sauté cutlets 2 to 3 minutes, turning once. Do not overcook. If desired, remove veal and make or add a pre-made sauce to the pan. Serve hot.
Stir-frying is an excellent way to cook uniform pieces of veal with vegetables and other ingredients. Substitute veal for other meats in your favorite recipes. Heat a small amount of oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Stir-fry veal strips in 1/2 lb. batches (do not overcook), continuously tossing until outside surface is no longer pink. Add additional oil for each batch. Cook veal and vegetables separately; combine and heat through.
In broiling, meat is exposed directly to the heat source. Broiling is best for thinner cuts like chops, steaks and kabobs. The key is to match the rate at which the outside of the meat browns with the temperature inside the meat. Seasoning can be added before or after broiling. Broil on rack of broiler pan so surface of veal is about 4″ from heat. Broil following directions below for medium to well-done, turning occasionally.
When stewing, smaller pieces of meat are covered by liquid and cooked slowly in a closed container until fork-tender. If desired, coat veal lightly with seasoned flour. Slowly brown veal in oil in heavy pan. Drain. Cover veal with liquid. Simmer over low heat on stovetop or in the oven at 325 degrees F until fork-tender.
Grilling adds rich flavor by browning the meat directly over the heat source. As in broiling, grilling also allows fat to run away from the meat, reducing the overall fat content. Veal chops, medallions, kabobs, and ground veal patties are the best cuts for grilling. Prepare grill (charcoal or gas) according to the manufacturer’s instructions for medium heat. Season veal (directly from the refrigerator) with herbs or spices, as desired. Place on cooking grid. Grill according to recipe, turning occasionally. After cooking, season veal with salt, if desired.
Slowly cooking in a closed container with a small amount of water is called braising. Braising uses less water than stewing. Veal Osso Buco is usually braised. Slowly brown veal in oil in a heavy pan. Season as desired. Add a small amount of liquid. Cover tightly and simmer gently over low heat on stovetop or in the oven at 325 °F, per chart, until fork-tender. Use the liquid from braising for a sauce.
How To Season
When it Comes to Veal, the Possibilities are Endless!
Delicious veal can be seasoned in countless ways. From bright citrus flavors to zesty spices, the sky is the limit. Here are some of our favorite flavor pairings for veal. Test out your own favorite flavor combinations for your veal dish today!
Artichoke • Arugula • Asparagus • Broccoli • Cabbage • Canned Tomatoes • Carrots • Cauliflower • Chick Peas • Dried Tomatoes • Eggplant • Fennel • Fresh Tomatoes • Green Chilies • Haricots Verts (Green Beans) • Kale • Leeks • Onions • Peppers • Potatoes • Radicchio • Shallots • Spinach • Squash • Tomato • Zucchini