I know a lot of people have been put off eating veal (My wife included) because of the practices associated with farming beef calves for the veal market. However, my father introduced me to his friend who raised veal calves and they were raised with great love,respect, kindness and care so I haven’t looked back since and veal is simply my meat of choice, given half a chance! I love it, because for me, it is like eating a more refined, sunnier, lighter version of beef. The only other thing I can equate it with is taking the humble grape and creating a bottle of champagne with it, that fizzier, more fun and festive bottle of wine!
Veal is the meat produced from calves rather than beef, which is produced from older animals. Veal can be produced from calves of either sex, whereas beef is predominantly male because few male calves are groomed to be bulls and so become surplus to requirements. It is more expensive to buy than beef because the calves tend to be so much younger.
There are several different types of veal. Bob veal is taken from calves that are slaughtered when often only a few weeks old or no more than a month and no morel than 60 lbs (27 k) in weight. White, milk-fed or formula-fed veal is meat taken from animals slaughtered at 18-20 weeks and weighing 450-500 lbs (204-226 g). The meat is pale pink or ivory in colour, with a velvety, fine grain. Non-formula red or grain-fed veal is commonly marketed as calf rather than veal and is much darker in colour, quite often marbled. Finally, rose veal in the UK and young beef elsewhere in Europe, comes from calves raised on farms that belong to the RSPCA’s Freedom Food programme. The meat is rose in colour because the calves are slaughtered at about 35 weeks.
Saltimbocca alla Romana (translated from the Italian as jumps in the mouth) is a dish comprising an escalope of veal, lined with prosciutto and most commonly sage, sometimes basil, rolled up or left flat and pan-fried in butter with the addition of Marsala or wine, in which the escalope has been marinated. It is a dish of Italian origin that is also popular in Switzerland. Spain and Greece. A-C, despite her antipathy for veal, cooked me this fabulous Saltimbocca alla Romana for lunch today with extra crispy sage leaves, divine!
- A large knob of butter
- 2 Veal escalopes
- 1 pack of pancetta
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A handful of sage leaves
- A splash of wine
- Prepare the veal by placing three or four sage leaves on the meat and then wrapping it carefully in the pancetta.
- Melt the butter in a heavy based pan until it is foaming. Add the sage leaves.
- Cook the rice according to the instructions.
- Add the veal and cook through until the pancetta is crispy.
- Drain the rice, place back in saucepan and keep warm by replacing the lid.
- Remove the veal and allow to rest for a couple of minutes.
- Remove the sage and add the wine to de-glaze the pan.
- Spoon the rice on to the plate, slice the veal on the diagonal and place on top.
- Spoon over the sauce and sprinkle on the sage leaves.