Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Veal Breast: Small Cut, Small Price, Delicious Results

There are some cuts of meat that we just don't think of using. Some of these cuts are gristly and tough to make tender no matter how long you may cook them. There are others, however, that are tasty, tender, and most importantly, cheap. Veal breast is on of these cuts. The piece you see here cost me a whopping $2.65 for a 3.5 lb cut, so I bought two. Veal breast is exactly what it sounds like, the breast plate of the calf. Basically, it is the portion of the side of the rib that connects with the other side by the sternum. Most cuts of the breast will include rib bone and rib cartilage. There is a muscle plate on the top of the cut, and another between a nice pad of fat. Then there is sweet, tender meat between each rib bone. The high fat content of the cut allows for a long braise , although the long cook is not necessary. A cut similar to the one above does not render a large yield of meat, but what does come off the bone is so incredibly delicious, that you will buy three or four the next time you choose veal breast so you have left overs.
Now, how does one prepare a tasty veal breast? There are several flavor profile options, but really only one way to cook this cut: you have to braise it. I went through a few braises before I found MY favorite flavor profile for the meat, but every person is different. I used a french approach, with the classic flavors. I first heated a little herb infused olive oil and butter in a enamel coated cast iron pot and browned the breasts on all sides. While browning, dice two large carrots, one large sweet onion, and three celery stalks for your mirepoix. Remove the breasts and put on a pan for later. Turn down the heat and throw in the mirepoix to soften. While that is working dice up two or three cloves of garlic and throw into the mix after about 5-8 minutes. If you want to add flavor, let some of the veggies brown a little bit. Then deglaze with some good white wine and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Although the browning of he meat should use high heat, the veg ought to cook at medium heat, unless the aforementioned browning is wanted. Add 4-5 cups of chicken stock (I add a little ham stock too), 4 bay leaves, and fresh thyme and rosemary if you have it. Place the pot in the oven for 3.5-4 hours at 275-300 degrees.
When the veal is done, it will pull apart quite nicely. There is a lot of fat, but the meaty goodness is going to be unequalled. I serve it as sort of a pulled sandwich, or if you like, make some cheddar grits and serve it over the grits. It also makes a kick-ass stew if you serve it with the juices and veg. If using as a stew, throw in some potato and extra carrots about 30 minutes before removing from the oven. ALWAYS remember to remove the bay leaves before serving. ENJOY!!!


  1. Making this as I speak ... thanks for making this cut of meat less intimidating.

    South Philadelphia

  2. Breast of Veal is also good Stuffed.? Have the Butcher, Cut a Pocket into the Brisket.? For stuffing.? A mixture of Bread Crumbs,?Italian Sausage,? Casing Removed.? Eggs, Graded Parmesan Cheese, Garlic, Basil & Oregano. Olive Oil.? Mix it all together, & stuff it into the pocket of the Veal.? Tie it on the ends & middle.With Butchers Twine,? And roast it into your Oven,? With some Potatoes.?Always makes a great Family meal for the Holidays