People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
04/08/2009 Veal shank with cardoon and new garlic (Jarret de veau au cardon et à l'ail nouveau) Clay pot
To serve 4-6:
1 veal shank (3.5-4 lbs.)* 1 T. olive oil 3-4 hunks of veal marrow bone 2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1 big leafy celery stalk sliced 1 onion, diced 1 leek, both white and green parts, sliced 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley 4 sprigs thyme, fresh or dried 1 bay leaf 6 peppercorns Salt and freshly ground pepper
1-1/4 lb inner leaves of cardoon** 1 lemon 1/3 c. flour salt
1 T. butter 1 c. crème fraîche 3 cloves new garlic**** finely chopped or 3 bulbs of green garlic**** Salt and freshly ground pepper Fresh lemon juice to taste 3 T. chopped parsley for garnish
*Try to find big, grass-fed veal, and not confinement grown milkfed veal. **Cardoon is an artichoke relative of which one eats the leaf stalks. It's available in winter and early spring in Middle Eastern and Italian markets. You can also grow it in your garden. You can substitute fresh artichokes if you wish for a slightly different effect. ***"New garlic" is freshly harvested garlic with clove-filled heads, but a moist husk. It is the best for this dish. If you can't find it, use green garlic. ****Green garlic is garlic freshly harvested before the individual cloves have formed. It resembles a leek.
Heat the olive oil in a very large dutch oven and brown the veal shank on all sides (have the butcher cut it in 2 if it is very large). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F and brown the veal bones (about 25 minutes). Add the vegetables to the veal, stir and cook for 10 minutes, cover the shank with water, and add the herbs and pepper. Remove the bones from the oven and add them to the shank. Bring to a boil, skim, reduce the heat to low and simmer, partly covered, until the meat is just tender but not at all falling off the bone (1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours for grass-fed veal). Scoop the shank out of the broth, remove the meat muscle by muscle and trim all fat and gristle, returning it to the broth. Cook the broth another half hour. Meanwhile, slice the meat crosswise into thick slices and rough chunks if necessary. Salt and pepper, toss, and cover to keep moist.
Strain the broth, discarding the solids except the bones. Scoop the marrow from the bones and reserve before discarding the bones (or giving them to the family dog!). Pour the broth into a clean pot and reduce over medium high heat by 1/3.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, mix the flour with a bit of cold water to make a smooth paste. Slowly add cold water, whisking to blend the flour paste into the water. Add the juice from half a lemon and 2 T. salt. Put over a medium-high flame. Trim any leaves from the cardoon stems, thinly peel them and remove as many tough strings as possible. Cut them into 1 inch slices and drop them as you work into the heating flour-lemon-water. When it comes to a boil, partly cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Pay attention as the mixture can foam as it boils. Cook the cardoon until very tender (around 30-40 minutes), drain and reserve.
Using a flame tamer, gently heat a clay skillet (poêlon). Add the butter and, when it has melted, add the reserved meat. Toss and add 1/3 c. of the reserved, reduced stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer, tossing the meat often, until it starts to brown. Add 1 cup more stock (make sure it is hot if using clay) and continue simmering until almost no liquid remains, tossing the meat often. Now add the cardoon and another cup or so of stock. The stock should halfway cover the meat and cardoon. Continue simmering*, uncovered, 30 more minutes. Add the crème fraîche and bring to a simmer. Cook 20-30 minutes more over very low heat. The sauce should be just thick enough to nap a spoon. Add 2 of the chopped garlic cloves and cook 10 minutes. Add the remaining garlic,stir well, cook 2 minutes. .Correct the seasoning with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Garnish with the parsley. Serve with Bomba rice cooked with a bit of onion and some of the veal broth.
Note: I was amazed by how delicious this dish, which resulted from an evening's "winging it", turned out. The flavor is deep and delectable; here's why: One, the second cooking of the meat in the reduced broth makes it meltingly tender and concentrated in flavor. And two, the new garlic adds another flavor layer that isn't even come across as garlicky. The final adding of the last clove just before serving brightens the flavor. Please note, you cannot use old garlic and get the same delicious result. *I highly recommend the use of a clay poêlon for this dish. Its steady, gentle heat is perfect for making the meat absorb the stock.. If you're using a Creuset-type vessel, watch carefully, use more broth, and reduce the cooking times. The result won't be as velvety.