Gabriel Kreuther’s Stuffed Veal Breast
If you skip the Thanksgiving turkey for this recipe, even die-hard traditionalists will be tempted by this rich, festive feast from the Alsace-born chef
- 1 boned veal breast (3 to 3 1/2 pounds), cut to 13 by 7 inches
- 1 tablespoon Activa (meat glue)
For the stuffing:
- 4 of 5 slices of fresh Pullman-style loaf
- Milk, for soaking the bread
- 2 tablespoons duck fat, foie gras fat or butter
- 1 1/2 cups minced onions
- 3 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 6 ounces fatty veal meat (trimmed from the breast in step 4)
- 6 ounces chicken or duck liver
- 2 eggs
- 30 grinds pepper
- 1/4 of a nutmeg, grated
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
For the braising liquid:
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter or grapeseed oil
- 1/2 to 1 bottle dry white wine
- About 1 pint chicken stock, as needed
- Pinch salt
- Several grinds pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- Slurry (2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water)
1. Make the stuffing: Soak the bread in milk, then press out the excess. In a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and foie gras fat or butter, and cook the onion until it’s soft, adding a teaspoon of salt as you do. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley, and refrigerate until chilled.
2. Grind the fatty veal meat and the liver through a small die on a meat grinder, then puree in a food processor. (If you don’t have a meat grinder, put the liver and meat in the freezer until they are stiff with cold and puree them in a food processor.)
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the bread, onion mixture, meat puree, eggs, pepper, nutmeg, ginger and 2 teaspoons of salt, and mix until thoroughly combined. Sauté a couple tablespoons of the stuffing, if you wish, to cook through and taste for seasoning, adjusting as necessary.
4. Trim the veal breast to measure 13 by 7 inches. With a sharp knife, make a pocket, or simply butterfly the breast (ask your butcher to do this, if you like). Season with salt and pepper. For the pocket version, fill the entire cavity with the stuffing using a spoon, packing it in gently, making sure there are no air pockets. Close the opening by sewing it with a large sewing needle and butcher twine (see photos). For the butterflied version, shape the stuffing in the middle, dust the edges of the breast with Activa (meat glue), and fold the meat over the stuffing, pressing the edges together.
5. Wrap the veal breast tightly in several layers of plastic wrap, sealing the ends well with butcher twine (it will be poached in the plastic wrap the next day), and refrigerate overnight so the stuffing harmonizes and the Activa is activated.
6. The next day, take the plastic-wrapped veal breast and wrap it in two layers of aluminum foil, securing it well at the ends with butcher twine so that it resembles a large candy wrap.
7. Bring a large pot of water to boil and drop in the wrapped veal breast. As soon as the meat is placed into the pot, the water temperature will drop dramatically. Bring the temperature back up to between 190° F and 200° F, monitoring with a thermometer. Poach for 2 hours, maintaining that temperature range. Carefully drain the pot, then refill with cold water from the faucet and let the veal cool for about 2 hours, then remove it from the water and refrigerate overnight.
8. The next day, carefully unwrap the veal breast from the aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Reserve all the gelatinous juices in a plastic container for the poaching liquid. With a paper towel, dry the veal well so that, when searing, it doesn’t splatter too much.
9. To finish the veal: Preheat your oven to 335° F. In a large saucepan, sweat the onions, carrots and celery in the butter. Transfer the vegetables to the pan in which you will braise the veal. In a separate pan, sear both sides of the veal in hot oil. Put it on the sautéed vegetables in your braising pan. Add enough wine and chicken stock to come halfway up the side of the breast. Add the salt, pepper and bay leaf and place in the oven for 90 minutes; checking with a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be at or above 150° F.
10. Remove the breast from the pan to rest. If you wish, strain the braising liquid and thicken it with a slurry to use as a sauce. Cut the veal into 3/4-inch-thick slices and serve with the sauce, if using. Serves 8 to 10.