Blanquette de Veau, a most popular French classic dish reputed to be THE French favourite of family dishes - most often translated as Veal Casserole in White Sauce
1.2kg (2lb12 oz)vealmixture of breast & shoulder, cut into chunks
bouquet garni1 bay leaf, 1 large sprig thyme, 3 sprigs parsley
1leekwhite part only, sliced
2large carrotscut into chunks
250ml / 9 fl ozwhite wine
300g (11oz)mushrooms (champignons de Paris)about 24, halved or quartered depending on size
18pickling onionsor spring onions (or use frozen)
150g / 5.5 ozcrème fraîche
3large egg yolks
1/4tspfreshly grated nutmeg
grated zest of half lemonunwaxed
1/2tspfleur de sel salt (plus few turns of the peppermill)to taste
Stud the onion with the cloves. Place the veal in a casserole dish and add the carrots, onion, leek and bouquet garni. Pour in the wine and add just enough water to cover the meat and vegetables. Bring to the boil, skimming the surface for the first 10 minutes of any scum. Cover and simmer gently for about 2 hours.
About 45 minutes before the end of cooking, prepare the garnish. Wash mushrooms, pat dry and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size. TIP: Fry them at first without any oil or butter in a non-stick pan until they have given out all of their juices. This concentrates the flavour. THEN add the butter and fry the onions. When cooked, add the lemon juice and set aside.
Lift the lid of the casserole dish and smell these flavours! Discard the bay leaf and herb stalks. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving dish, adding the mushrooms and pickling onions. Set aside and keep warm in a cool-moderate oven while preparing the sauce.
Boil the cooking liquid over a high heat until reduced. Meanwhile, in a bowl, hand-whisk the crème fraîche, lemon zest, yolks, grated nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. Blend in 3 tablespoons of the hot stock then quickly whisk in the yolk mixture back into the stock. Stir constantly until thickened but do not boil (it will reduce its subtle flavours). Whisk until the sauce is smooth and velvety then pour over the meat and vegetables.
Serve with fluffy rice (long grain from the Camargue). This dish is also lovely reheated the next day. For busy gourmets, this dish can be prepared the day before a dinner party. Just prepare steps 1 + 2 in advance, cool then chill in the fridge. Make the sauce and garnish on the day of serving.