Pan-fried Veal with Rosemary

Veal gets a bad rap. We all can’t help but to equate any veal with industrial veal.  We imagine cute black-and-white calves, chained in a box, their faces forlorn as they lonesomely moo for their mothers.  Yeah. It’s a grim thought.  For that reason, I’d never really consumed veal until this summer when a box of meat that included little else but veal arrived from our meat CSA.  A note in the box and a subsequent email explained that this veal was different.  This veal was raised by momma.

Indeed, the method of chaining and crating veal calves is a new practice, established in the years following World War II when the agricultural communities of the United States began their dramatic move from the small, intimate and self-sustaining farms they were to feed-lots and monocropping.  Dairy farmers moved male offspring, who otherwise held little value, indoors to save space and costs in an era when young farmers were encouraged to “modernize.”  Tradition, as is often the case, was lost under the effort to modernize the agriculture of America’s heartland.  Prior to this change, veal calves were raised alongside their mothers in open pasture, under the sun and with access to clean air and fresh water before their brought to harvest at about the same time lambs are traditionally slaughtered.  Thanks to the renaissance of truly traditional and sustainable farming practices – and, in a way, to the raw milk movement – humanely raised veal is increasing in availability.

Far from the milky white meat of calves fed on formula devoid of iron and raised in crates so small they can’t even turn around, the meat of pasture-raised veal is a rich magenta-like pink hue to the calves access to their natural diet of mother’s milk and fresh pasture grasses – resulting in an improved life prior to harvest for the calves and in improved nutrient density of their meat.  Pasture-raised veal is sinfully tender and mild by comparison to beef, but dense in vitamins, minerals, conjugated linoleic acid and offers a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio than its formula-fed, crated alternative.

So, upon receiving that first box brimming with pasture-raised veal: cutlets, chops, ground veal, roasts, I prepared our first meal.  The meat was tender and made flavorful by veal’s wholesome, healthy fats combined with fragrant, herbaceous rosemary.  It was, in short, divine.

My son, aged four, gazed up at me from his first bite of pain-fried veal and said, “Mama, what is this wonderful meat?”

I glanced down at him.  My memories of hearing the stories of crated veal still fresh in my mind and I hesitated, if only slightly before I simply said, “Well, honey, it’s veal and veal is a baby cow.”  I braced myself for the flood of tears, remembering how, when I was four I’d asked my step-grandmother to purchase a can of veal-based food for her irrationally large number of cats and she responded with a half-hour long diatribe railing against the dismal condition of crate-raised veal calves.  I cried for days at my audacity for suggesting she purchased something made with – gasp – baby cows!

Instead, my son was silent for a moment before he responded, “Can we try a baby pig next?”

pan-fried veal with rosemary

By Jenny Published: February 3, 2010

  • Yield: 04 Servings
  • Prep: 15 to 20 mins

The pine-like, herbaceous scent of fresh rosemary infuses this recipe for pan-fried veal cutlets with a subtle vibrant flavor that is well complemented by the addition of preserved Meyer lemon with its bright, slightly salty taste. The flavor of shallots caramelized in bacon fat adds a smoky touch to the tender cutlets of veal. This recipe was featured in Nourished Kitchen’s Recipe Cards (enter code FEFEB20 for 25% through February 9th).

Ingredients

  • four to six ounce humanely raised veal cutlets
  • sprouted grain flour (for dredging)
  • 2 tbsp pastured bacon fat or lard
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 4 shallots (thinly sliced)
  • 2 preserved Meyer lemons (chopped coarsely)
  • additional rosemary (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Place veal cutlets between two pieces of waxed paper and pound with a wooden mallet to tenderize and flatten them.
  2. Dredge the veal cutlets in the sprouted grain flour, ensuring they’re well-covered and set them aside.
  3. Heat bacon fat or lard in a cast iron skillet over a medium flame until it’s melted and sizzling.
  4. Add rosemary and fry until the fat is fragrant and vibrant with the herb’s fresh scent.
  5. Remove the rosemary from the skillet and discard it.
  6. Add the thinly sliced shallots to the rosemary-scented fat and fry until well-caramelized, brown and fragrant, about three minutes.
  7. Add the veal cutlets to the skillet on fry on each side for approximately two to three minutes.
  8. Plate with caramelized shallots and garnish with chopped preserved Meyer lemons and additional rosemary.

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What people are saying

  1. Devon Hernandez says

    Wow what a timely post! I was just having a conversation via facebook with a friend about veal! I’ll have to post a link to this. I have never supported industrial veal, and neither does she (she’s a vegetarian), and now I’m intrigued! I know my farmers haven’t sold veal that I recall in the past, but maybe I’ll have to look for it especially during the spring when they slaughter lambs.

    The age thing was never really a HUGE deal for me, it was the fact that they were inhumanely raised for slaughter. If the veal is raised such as you detail above, I would have no problem eating it. Historically, we are omnivores and I’m very objective about eating delicious animal flesh; I just can’t get emotional about it like some who refuse to eat meat. Now, if someone denied me my meat, THEN I’d get emotional…LOL!

  2. says

    Oh, that looks so delicious. One of these days I’ll have veal cutlets on hand, and I’ll back to this entry (minus the flour). My husband will be walking on air for a week–veal and lemon!

  3. says

    I buy yummy grassfed veal here in Denmark
    and my american friends always look at my with horor
    when I tell them I enjoy that meat especially in the summertime.

    But how could a animal that has spend all its time with its mother on grass not be yummy or acceptabel to eat ???
    I understand the problem with industrial veal
    - but somehow the fact that veal comes from young animals makes people OH….

  4. says

    In rereading this this morning (which was required because last night I couldn’t get my eyes off the photo :)), I was reminded of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s section on veal in his River Cottage Meat Book. He makes two excellent points: 1. Calves for veal are generally slaughtered at the same age that pigs for pork and sheep for lamb are slaughtered (and you don’t see much of a stink about that), and 2. When there is no market for veal, the male dairy calves are simply killed hours after they’re born (wasted! what a lack of respect for life!) because they’re not suitable for beef production and so few are needed for breeding purposes. So it seems to me that if you consume dairy, then the right thing to do is to also consume veal.

  5. Erika Bell says

    John,

    Clearly you have an honest concern for human health and the correct way to eat. I do too.

    Gabriel Cousens is on a high fat diet, by the way. Last time I checked his macronutrient ratios, his diet was composed of 70% fat.

    Many folks in the raw movement preach about the benefits of fasting.
    John, what is your body using as energy during a fast?
    A fast is typically total abstinence of food. No dietary carbohydrates are ingested. The body is using fat and protein for fuel.

    The latest research on diet and heart disease shows no causal relationship. The idea that dietary fat causes blockages of the coronary arteries is based on flawed studies done by Ancel Keyes.

    Brush up on your biochemistry and learn how the body uses different energy sources. What creates the fats in the blood? Is dietary fat simply dumped in the bloostream or are carbohydrates the start of fat formation?

    If you are convinced, based on EVIDENCE, that dietary fat causes heart disease or any other disease, then I encourage you to confront your ideas and look up Gary Taubes’s book Good Calories Bad Calories, or just go to Jimmy Moore’s website and listen to a few podcasts.

    I was raw vegan. My health did not improve, because it is not the diet we as humans have evolved to eat.

    I wish you the best! Just stay open minded and skeptical of all claims.

    Jenny- Great post!
    Keep the recipes comin’, we’re hungry!

  6. john says

    Like McD, you’ve started your little one onto the path of heart disease and ironically accurately included the word “pain” which represents the fate of cows born outside India when you said ‘his first bite of pain-fried veal and said, “Mama, what is this wonderful meat?” Now he will want MORE so the poor little calves better run (but they can’t hide. There is no science that shows we need to eat veal or any animals. Look at Gabriel Cousens – at 60 he looks 30 and cures the diabetes fatty meals create in 30 days.

    When your son can himself slaughter a calf or lamb and sleep at night, a military career awaits.

  7. says

    THanks for all the info on the difference between pastured and industrial veal. I am a former veg*n and used to look at veal with horror. Now as happy and healthier omnivore I have avoided veal, due to all the industrial concerns. I’ll have to look for pastured veal – I go to a great traditional foods buying club in Minneapolis called Traditional Foods of Minnesota, I bet they have it. All WAPF-based philosophies, local meats and produce and ferments, and lots of great information. cool place, you’d love it :)

  8. Devon Hernandez says

    ^ Oh here we go. Lovely.

    Why is someone even visiting this page or commenting that doesn’t believe in what we are all eating, which is meat, animal fat, dairy, eggs????? Go tend some soybeans.

    I had to laugh the other week when a friend of mine and I were discussing eating meat, and we came up with the idea to take back the acronym “PETA” but remake it to stand for People Eating Tasty Animals. LOL! All joking aside, I am always concerned about the meat that I eat, how it was raised and how it got to me. I try to always keep the spirit of gratefulness when attacking a steak or a roast chicken or what have you.

    I like Heather Lackley’s point about the male calves just being killed and it’s a waste NOT to eat them; it gives their death honor and some dignity.

    I’m convinced – I’ll be searching out some pastured, humanely raised veal!

  9. Leah says

    That looks tasty! I had veal in Switzerland a couple of years ago (very common there) and it was great, but kind of smothered in sauce. I’d love to try your recipe, but I don’t know of anywhere to get sustainably-raised veal.

  10. Karen says

    I think the best and most comprehensive arguments (from a political, ethical and health perspective) against vegetarianism can be found in the book “The Vegetarian Myth”. I was a vegetarian for about 15 years and started eating meat again when pregnant with my first child, despite my emotions and logic – my body won out and I ate meat again with good results. Recently reading this book has finally enabled me to connect with how I feel about reconciling my respect for animals and my bodily need for meat.
    As a naturopath, I am constantly disseminating information on nutrition, diets and lifestyle. The overwhelming evidence is that we are not designed to eat the carbohydrates (read sugar, grains, etc) that we now eat as staples. The experiment of the last 30 years or so has gone terribly wrong….we are now more fat, and diabetes, heart disease and cancer are rampant. Quality animal foods are essential to a well mind and body.

  11. bobcat says

    John–

    How dare you speak judgmentally about someone’s 4 year old son! That last comment was totally unwarranted. Shame on you! We can all do without your judgment-ridden speculation about what this innocent young boy will someday choose to do with his life. Shame on you!

    Not being taught to fear death, and instead seeing it as a part of a greater cycle of events, garners respect for all life. I know that for me it has.

    In the U.S., we shove death out of our conscious thought. We’re afraid of cemeteries and funeral homes. It is quite ridiculous, really. We live in such an overly-sanitized society. Do you realize how many animals are killed on a corn field? Even small, non-factory farmers are waging a constant life-or-death battle against all kinds of furry beings.

  12. Julie says

    Thanks for the post! I have not personally tried veal but will one of these days. Oh, and just want to say….

    I LOVE animals….they taste so good!

  13. says

    Hello -

    Thank you the great reference to pasture-raised veal. Your summary of the veal industry shows that you have done your homework. I have the priviledge of leading both Animal Compassion and Pasture Raised programs for Strauss Brands.

    We are a 3rd generation, family owned veal and lamb producer. We proudly became the first veal company in America to re-introduce authentic, pasture raised veal two years ago. Today, Strauss Free Raised veal is available at Whole Foods nationwide and Lunds and Byerly’s in the Twin Cities (Kim – you can find it easily at both).

    As noted above, be sure to look for the rich pink, natural color to as well as a label stating “Strauss Free Raised”. The color is richer because our calves recieve natural amounts of iron from their diet of mother’s milk and pasture grass. Conversely, the lack of dietary iron is what causes regular veal to be pale in color. The all-natural diet and raising conditions also allow our calves to be raised 100% antbiotic free as well.

    We believe ethical and humane raising results in higher-qualty, more nutritious products for our consumers. In the case of Strauss Free Raised, our veal is actually lower in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than a boneless, skinless breast. So, you can feel good about feeding it to your family (my 4 year old’s favoite dish is grilled scaloppini, served with a squirt of lemon)

    Thank you for the opporunity to contribute to this discussion session. If you are interseted in learning more visit http://www.freeraised.com.

    Sinerely,
    Lori Dunn
    Strauss Brands

  14. says

    I tried really, really hard to go vegetarian about ten years ago. I’m carb sensitive. I have to limit soy because of my thyroid and adrenals. This caused me to be so weird that Osama bin Laudin would have been terrified of me.
    Now that I eat animal proteins, I can concentrate well enough to send my elected officials at least one civil email a week to let them know how I feel about today’s issues.
    @Lori–I’ve bought your lamb at Woodman’s in North Aurora, IL. I’ve used it in several variations on the curry theme and for my dog (in his sage years with a sensitive tummy). We like it.

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