Season to Taste
Veal’s delicate flavor is compatible with a variety of seasonings. For especially tasty veal, try garlic, lemon peel, black pepper, lemon pepper, fresh or dried herbs and Italian seasoning. You may be surprised to discover that fresh fruit salsas and dried fruit sauces also go well with veal. (See our in-depth chart for more great veal Seasonings and Companions)
There are a number of techniques for flavoring veal. The technique chosen may depend on the seasonings or ingredients used.
Dry Rub: Apply herbs and spices to the outside of the meat before braising or grilling.
Marinate: Soak meat in a mixture of oils, herbs and acidic ingredients such as juices, vinegar or wine. Marinating can also tenderize meat before cooking.
Crust or Bread: Coat meat, such as cutlets, in breadcrumbs, herbs or ground nuts.
Sauce or Glaze: Top meat with a blend of flavors while adding moisture.
Stuff: Fill veal with an assortment of vegetables, herbs, nuts and cheeses.
Proper Preparation Before Cooking Veal
As we said before, veal is easy to prepare. But like any lean meat without much excess fat it is important to follow some basic preparation steps to get the best results:
- Leave a thin layer of fat on roasts, chops and steaks to preserve juiciness; trim fat after cooking. Trim cuts for grilling more closely to avoid flare-ups.
- Pound veal cutlets with the flat side of a meat mallet to a uniform thickness for even cooking.
- Pat dry veal cutlets with a paper towel to promote browning.
- Add salt and salty seasonings to veal after cooking or browning.
- For moist, flavorful burgers, meatloaves and meatballs use a light touch when mixing and shaping.
The Correct Veal Cooking Temperature
Using too high a heat can lead to overcooking and dry, flavorless veal. Or you may char the outside before the center has a chance to reach desired doneness. Here are some basic temperature guidelines:
- Sauté, pan fry or stir fry cutlets over medium-high heat.
- For the best braised or stewed dishes: brown slowly to develop rich flavor, cover tightly to retain steam, and simmer gently over a very low heat.
- Grill over medium hot, ash-covered coals.
- Pre-heat broiler for 10 minutes before broiling. Place the veal in the standard broiling distance from the heat source.
For optimal flavor, juiciness and tenderness, cook most veal cuts to medium (160 degrees). Do not overcook. The most accurate way to determine doneness is with an instant-read thermometer.
To judge doneness visually, make a small slit near the bone or near the center for boneless cuts. Medium veal will be light pink in the center.
Braised or stewed veal should be cooked just until the veal is fork-tender.