Make Ahead

Veal Stew "Truck Stop Style"

December 20, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Right off I will say, this dish is the best of the best, it is so good.
My wife often complains that I never cook favorite dishes more than once. She is not to far off with her complaint. There are just so many food experiences to be had that it is hard not to move on to the next dish or recipe. The only problem with this is familiarity. There is something about eating familiar foods at meal time that becomes comforting. Now that we have kids I see more repeats coming to the table of the foods they like and are apt to eat.
With each passing year there are a whole host recipes I can point to that have become regulars. Regular meaning that over the last thirteen years I have made this at least once a year and in a good year I have made it twice. What is funny is I can’t believe I have been making this dish for thirteen years, well I can because it is hands down my favorite stew on earth but I am sure if I made it more often it wouldn’t be as shiny.
When I decided to make it this time, always in the late Fall, I decided I would write down the ingredients and method of how I make it now days and then I would go back and look at the original recipe in Saveur magazine (Blanquette de Veau recipe in issue number 23). I thought it would be interesting to see if and how I had changed it. I wanted to see because I think it is interesting to see a recipes lineage. I say lineage because now days with technology and media there are millions of recipes from all over the world changing hands and being eaten in homes across the planet. Gone are the days of cooking what your mother taught you and the few recipes you might have picked up from friends and neighbors over the years.
What I found interesting is I had changed the recipe quite a bit. I had added about four times the amount of leeks, added less white wine but more stock, lots more garlic and half the cream. I had changed the method in little ways as well, shortcutting steps and in general cooking how I think things are done best. Even with all the changes I think the basic original recipe is still enough in tact that I would never call this my own.
And this is exactly my point, when can you call a recipe your own? There are lots of people out there that will change one or two things in a recipe and call it their own without even a wink to the original or originator of the recipe. Is it a crime, no, but I am sure there are some ethical questions to think about here. At its core food is about sharing and for me, anyway, sharing a recipes origins is the same as feeding someone if that makes any sense. I also have a theory, and that is people who do this really aren’t that great of chefs or cooks in the first place and it really isn’t that interesting to eat at their house because it is about them and not the social aspects of dining together over some good grub.
What I am glad about is that there is a huge transfer of recipes going on and I am daily encouraged by like mined folks who give credit where credit is do. I am also glad that people are becoming adventurous and trying new things and moving beyond a repertoire of fourteen or fifteen dishes. Life is to short to be that boring so go out and search out new foods and recipes and get cooking.
Pairing Note: I personally like to serve this with a crisp green salad and crusty bread or rolls and nothing else.
Someone once asked about the name of this recipe. We have always called this truck stop stew ever since the first time we tasted it. I think in the article in Saveur they likened the French bouchons of Lyon to truck stops. I am pretty sure we said, “oh my, if only here in the states...”.

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 pounds veal breast, trimmed of fat and sinew and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 1/4 cups leeks, rinsed and trimmed, whites only, cut in half and then into thin half moons
  • 1 cup yellow onion, small dice
  • 1/4 cup fresh gaarlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 11/2 to 2 cups veal, chicken or beef stock
  • 1 lemon, halved and seeded
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, minced
  • kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper
  • 6 to 8 sprigs of thyme tied with kitchen twine
  1. Season the veal with salt and white pepper. Let it rest for about 15 minutes to absorb the salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil a heavy bottomed pot over medium. Working in batches brown the veal completely on all sides removing the pieces to a tray.
  2. Once you have finished browning all the pieces add the butter to the pan and then add the leeks, onion, garlic and the bay leaves. Season them with salt and fresh ground white pepper. Cook them gently until they are wilted and then add the flour.
  3. While stirring cook the flour for a few minutes to get rid of the starchy flavor and then deglaze the pan with the white wine being sure to scrape up all the brown crusties on the bottom of the pan. Bring the wine to a boil and let it thicken.
  4. Add the veal, stock, lemon and the thyme. Bring the stew to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the veal is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Remove the lid from the stew. Remove the lemon, squeezing the juice into the pan as you do so, and the bundle of thyme.
  6. Add the cream and capers. Bring the stew to a boil to make sure it is hot. Remove it from the heat, stir in the parsley, and ladle into bowls and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • twinjadojo
  • Lulu K
    Lulu K
  • healthierkitchen
  • isabelita
  • Sagegreen

48 Reviews

cpc August 22, 2021
I’ve made this recipe a number of times and it always turns out fantastic. Veal is crazy expensive so last time, I tried it with pork stew meat and it was really good. Definitely a keeper.
twinjadojo May 7, 2015
Oh Lordy, this is so good! The meat came out so tender, which isn's always the case in my veal stewing experience. This has just the right acidity to bring out the very best in the meat. And alliums for days. We served it drenched over an olive oil mashed potato, and died of happiness.
bklynfoodie March 3, 2014
Absolutely delicious and easy to make. Wld be great for a Sunday dinner party or just with your family. Not heavy but yet warm and comforting.
Lulu K. December 2, 2013
The best veal stew! Just made it it!
soher February 11, 2013
Fabulous - perfect for this past snowy weekend in NYC
caroline0ne October 2, 2011
This was phenomenal!. I used Creme Fraiche for extra tang; and served it with the lemon "shell" on each plate. The long braised lemon was deliciousas well. Then I added a few more capers at serving time. This recipe is a Keeper. I look forward to making it many times.
aimeebama March 17, 2011
Delicious. The house smelled SO GOOD, when my husband walked in the door, he about fell over. I found my first version a tad too acidic-- will not squeeze out the lemon next time at the end. Also, I used calf heart, which worked well and basically is veal. No doubt would be delicious with lamb too. I didn't need a whole 1.5 hours of simmering to get the tenderness recommended. Finally, I doubled the broth amount b/c my husband is wild about sopping up soup with bread and I wanted to make sure there was ample liquid for that. This recipe go into our winter rotation, no doubt.
chef L. February 7, 2011
I made this night before last; since I couldn't find veal breasts, I used venison back strap, which is the least gamey cut of deer and is by itself delicious. In this stew it provided fabulous texture and certainly no overpowering taste. This dish itself is another one I will make again because it has so many simple and satisfying flavors and makes a terrific alternative to more conventional stews loaded with potatoes and carrots...and I do like potatoes and carrots. Great recipe, so thank you.
thirschfeld February 11, 2011
that is great to hear chef lew. I am a deer hunter but have alway avoided putting venison in this stew but now I have to give it a go. So glad you like it, thanks.
wingirl January 26, 2011
just made it
what do you recommend i serve it with
homemade sweet potato fries, egg noodles, israeli couscous or brown rice??

also - think the recipe is missing the step where you put the veal back in the pot...
healthierkitchen December 22, 2010
Love this truck stop stew! Made this today for dinner tonight - son's first night home from first semester of college (actually made another food52 recipe his first night home Thanksgiving weekend, too). Really nice balance of flavors. Love the lemon as it's there but not overwhelming. Even my non-meat loving daughter commented on how good the sauce is. Should probably add the thyme bundle in to the ingredient list, though. Luckily I had a little in the garden that hadn't frozen.
thirschfeld December 22, 2010
I am so gla everyone enjoyed it and glad you found some thyme. Fixed it and thanks, T
isabelita December 21, 2010
I purchased a breast of veal today and was planning to roast the whole breast using rosemary at 300 for about two hours covered. I then remove the meat from the bone slice it like I would brisket and allow it to sit in its juice overnight for a delicious next day meal, but I find your recipe too good to resist and may try yours instead but will need to use canola oil. I've never used grape seed oil. Maybe this is a good recipe to begin with. Anyway, thanks. Your dish is perfect for cold days like we've been having.
thirschfeld December 21, 2010
I am thinking I want to try your recipe it sounds really good
AntoniaJames December 21, 2010
Grapeseed oil has a much higher smoking point, so it's really the only oil, in my opinion, to use in a situation like this. Plus, canola oil can leave a funny taste when used for browning (probably due to its lower smoking point, and tendency to turn bitter when too hot). But I'm just guessing this is why Mr. H calls for it. You should own some anyway. ;o)
thirschfeld December 21, 2010
AJ you are partially right, I used to use a lot of canola oil but I switched to grape seed because I was reading WinnieAbs blog and she was saying grape seed is healthier than canola. You already know I am the butter, lard, duck/ goose fat believer so you know to be as healthy as I can be I switched to grape seed. Of course me saying that is like a chain smoker who runs long distances.
Sagegreen December 21, 2010
Voting for french truck stops for the US, yes. I can just taste the sauce. Maybe venison or rabbit could be veal substitutes?
thirschfeld December 21, 2010
venison might be a little strong but rabbit would probably be great.
pierino December 21, 2010
I've been thinking about this recipe as it reads so 'effing great. As you continue your 'speriments you might try veal short ribs in this---lots of unctuous collagen matter swimming around. And all the flavors work.
AntoniaJames December 21, 2010
Uh, did you say "unctuous collagen"?!! Bring it on. Not sure where I can find veal short ribs, but obviously, the hunt would be well worth the effort, and part of the fun, as usual . . . any ideas where to source them in the SF Bay Area, pierino? My mouth is watering just considering this. ;o)
pierino December 21, 2010
I'm so digging this! It speaks to my soul.
thirschfeld December 21, 2010
Thanks brother p.
AntoniaJames December 21, 2010
Mine, too. I saw the photo and immediately thought, Blanquette with a twist, and then I could hardly wait to read the recipe. The headnote is pretty darn good, too. ;o)
luvcookbooks December 21, 2010
I'm ok ethically with the veal but have a technical question about the veal breast. I buy it and love it because it's so cheap and delicious but I don't have any idea how to take it off the bone and chop it into one inch cubes. Can you help?

Are you gestating a book, do you think? Or is it holiday nostalgia season? Enjoying the prose. :)
thirschfeld December 21, 2010
I also enjoy the bone in breast but I am not sure you would get enough meat from it for this application. I bought a piece of boneless breast, which is a more expensive, but really you could use veal stew meat as well. Pretty sure I am just long winded.
monkeymom December 21, 2010
Looking forward to trying this, it looks wonderful. I haven't really developed a taste for veal yet and am happy to see this great recipe with it!
thirschfeld December 21, 2010
thank you monkeymom
Lizthechef December 20, 2010
Hey, Tom, totally down with your father-in-law...Get those stockings up for your girls and Merry Christmas back at you! ps Don't forget to buy a fabulous gift for your absent wife - we feel like starting a fan club for her ;)
Lizthechef December 20, 2010
You are way behind on the thumbs up - and, yes, they still matter, if only to us.
Lizthechef December 20, 2010
I haven't eaten veal in 25 years, but I do eat mature beef. Your recipe ingredients challenge me. Hope you take this well, because I do consume red meat. Maybe I need to more carefully consider where all the animal protein comes from for my family. Married to a psychiatrist, Larry calls our beef-eating "denial", although he, Wisconsin Dairy Boy, is the one who asks for it and is a former hunter. Blah. Tom - as always, your recipes rock. Merry Christmas - X0 Liz
thirschfeld December 20, 2010
Liz, my father-in-law would not, and I mean would not, eat chicken. He grew up on a farm where they raised them and he hated it. On the other hand his brother loved chicken, it is his favorite meal. I don't take any offense to what people will or will not eat. It is such a personal choice and we all have to make them everyday. Merry Christmas to you too.
dymnyno December 20, 2010
I like this recipe and I like veal. I think that most people don't understand that most veal is a byproduct of the milking industry. A cow must be lactating to produce milk. So she has to get pregnant and give birth. Veal is usually a male calf, because a female is valuable to raise and become a milker herself.
thirschfeld December 20, 2010
Many farmers have gone to turning their male calves out to pasture and giving them free choice food, meaning they eat grass and grain. For a long time I gave up veal solely for the fact it seemed to have lost its flavor. I have been using it more lately because it seems to have its flavor back.
hardlikearmour December 20, 2010
I realize where veal comes from, I grew up and went to vet school in WI. When I've been to farms that raised veal (granted this was 15-20 years ago), the veal calves were kept in tiny and filthy enclosures. It really was disgusting. If I knew the source of the veal, and they were humanely raised I would have no issue with eating it.
dymnyno December 20, 2010
I think that most farmers have gone to a humanely way of raising veal. I know of one that I have passed for 20 years that has changed dramatically . It was heartbreaking to see the old method, I agree.
hardlikearmour December 20, 2010
I should probably look into it again. The idea never really even occurred to me. I'd guess if I could find humanely raised veal anywhere it'd be here!
healthierkitchen December 20, 2010
I also didn't eat veal for a number of years due to the poor conditions in which the calves were kept. But every once in a while I can find some humanely raised veal which I will buy.
thirschfeld December 20, 2010
hardlikearmour I have seen the pens too and they are not appealing to me either. There are really two major veal packers, provimi and the name of the second escapes me right now, but I don't know their farm practices or requirements. There is lots of veal being locally sourced these and the animals are raised in a better fashion. Really though I can understand the desire not to eat veal if you have seen the veal fattening pens. One of those visual brain tattoos that stays there forever.
hardlikearmour December 20, 2010
I'm one of those people who doesn't eat veal. I checked this recipe out anyway because thirschfeld tends to have interesting head notes. Now (of course) I want to eat this stew. Is there any other meat that would work?
thirschfeld December 20, 2010
I have made it with beef and while I don't like it as well it is still good.
healthierkitchen December 21, 2010
actually, with chicken in this dish, it would be pretty close to a chicken in reisling, no?