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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...”.
Serves 4 to 6
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove the lid from the stew. Remove the lemon, squeezing the juice into the pan as you do so, and the bundle of thyme.
- 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.