September 10, 2010

No Apologies

Fall is here and I have to tell you that I am thrilled. I’m so excited for crisp winds, cool mornings, and light sweaters that it doesn’t even bother me that somehow summer slipped by me this year. Truthfully, I’m happy to see it go. Goodbye smothering heat waves and glaring sunshine that doesn’t even have the decency to have a cheerful demeanor. Hello cider donuts, colorful mums and chilly nights- you have been missed.

As you may have noticed (ahem), I spent my summer doing quite a bit of cooking and not so much blogging. I won’t apologize though, because my culinary adventures have been well worth it. There was a failed yet courageous attempt at gnocchi that I don’t wish to discuss and a flavor blunder with some fried zucchini blossoms that is better left alone. But let me say this, our roasted turkey on spit more than made up for either of these mishaps.

In July, I successfully baked two tarts with the help of a dear friend. Well okay, there was more watching than actual baking on my part, because let’s face it I don’t seem to have the appropriate temperament to handle pastry dough, but still it was a gallant effort. And at the time I really did mean to share it with you… I’ve just been so busy with crab bakes, grilled corn, homemade barbeque sauce, raviolis, stuffed eggplants, stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchini globes (yes there’s been much to stuff this summer), and perfecting the art of hot pepper paste that I simply ran out of time.

But I’m back now and am excited to share with you the fruit of my culinary efforts. I think you will find that the wait has been worthwhile. This next recipe is big and I hope you are ready for it. After several practice runs, and some one-on-one Nonna training this summer, I am delighted to share with you Nonna’s Veal.

It is impossible to put into words the love that goes into this dish and the flavor it brings out. Nonna’s fried veal doesn’t taste like the breadcrumbs it’s rolled in or the oil it’s fried in, it simply tastes like tender, delicate, oh-so-delicious veal.

Growing up in “The Valley” of western mass, I can assure you that I was the only kid amongst my group of friends who had a.) ever tried veal and b.) never been told there was anything wrong with eating veal. The fact that it was baby cow did not (and sure I’ll admit it, still doesn’t) bother me in the least.  When I got a little older and started asking questions my Nonna promised me that her veal comes from Canada where they treat the livestock much more humanely. I’ll be honest, I was sure she was making this up for my benefit. The first time I cooked veal this summer my butcher heard me jokingly say this to my friend. The lovely man interrupted and said, “Actually, your Nonna is right. The Canadians treat their veal much better and it tastes better too. That’s where we get our veal from”. 

The question remains then, does Nonna buy her veal from Canada because of the better treatment, or because of its superior taste? I haven’t asked her but I am sure of her answer: what does it matter? 

Nonna’s Veal

Nonna would advise against serving this as your main dish.  At the very least, make sure to also include pasta with the meal.

The veal is just so good that if you let them, people will eat a pound each, and as Nonna says, “this stuff is like pure gold”.

  • 1 ½ lbs sliced veal will yield enough for four people

  • 1 egg lightly beaten
Breadcrumbs, preferably homemade. Add fresh chopped parsley, salt, pepper and a small handful of Romano cheese to the crumbs.

  • Corn oil
Ok, first let’s talk about the cut of veal. You want to ask your butcher for the top leg round and to slice it not as thick as a cutlet, but not as thin as a scaloppini. Do not accidently purchase veal loin. The “better” cut will spoil everything. Do not let your butcher pound the meat.

Once at home, pound the meat out yourself, with a very light touch- this is delicate tissue we’re talking about!

Next blot the meat with paper towels. Veal holds a lot of water and needs to be dried in order to fry properly.

Dip the dried meat in egg; wipe off the excess egg; lightly pat both sides of the veal in the breadcrumbs.

Lay the breaded veal in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Pour the oil in the frying pan- just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat on medium high. You’re using corn oil rather than olive oil because it heats at a higher temperature and imposes less flavor onto the meat.

Once oil is heated, add the veal, turning once until lightly golden on each side.


  1. Glad to see you're back. Well worth the wait . . . and I'm thinking I just might have to order veal tonight!

  2. a) it was too much fun setting tom to work on the tarts, no need to worry about a desire to avoid baking
    b) that veal was amazing. it made me want to buy a plane ticket to michigan and give nonna a big hug for sharing the reciepe which allowed you to bring it to my life. and i also had a little crush on the butcher who told us that veal from canada was superior. but then again, we know how i feel about canada.