Veal Chops with Arugula & Green Salsa
Many people of heard horror stories about the conditions under which calves are raised for veal. The most successful animal rights boycott in the United States started more than 25 years ago. The consumption of veal plummeted and has never recovered. In the 1950s and 1960s Americans ate four pounds of veal a year on average. Today per capital consumption is around half a pound a year. Fortunately, today there are thoughtful ranchers raising free-range veal without antibiotics. These changes on the farm led to corollary changes in the kitchen – a culinary serendipity that is just beginning to be recognized. Veal from calves fed sufficient grass or grain as well as milk has real character and flavor. For anyone who knows only the bland old-fashioned veal, it is as if a brand-new ingredient has been discovered. Tasting this new veal is not unlike biting into your first heirloom tomato from the garden after a lifetime of eating supermarket tomatoes bred for durability. Unlike the formula-fed veal – prized for whiteness, which comes from a lack of iron – almost all grass- or grain-fed veal raised outside crates not only is rosy or pink, but also has a delightfully clean, subtle beef taste. It’s worth pursuing and rewarding the farmers committed to raising free-range veal.
Next week I will post Summer Squash Gratin, which uses the same green salsa and beautifully complements the veal chop. As you will see the herbs and spices are quite complimentary. However – either would be excellent alone.
For Veal Chops:
- 6 free-range veal chops, about 10 oz each
- 1 Tb fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 Tb fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch clean arugula
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tsp grapeseed or canola oil
For Green Salsa:
- 1½ tsp fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
- ¼ C coarsely chopped mint
- 1½ C coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 C extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed
- 1½ Tb capers, rinsed and drained
- 1 lemon, for juicing
- Freshly ground black pepper
For Veal Chops:
Season veal chops with the 1 Tb rosemary, 1 Tb thyme, 2 smashed garlic cloves and 3 Tb olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
Pull the veal chops out of refrigerator 30 minutes in advance of cooking in order for them to reach room temperature. This is important so the chop will cook evenly and not have a cool interior compared to the exterior. Heat oven to 400 degree F well in advance so it is ready to receive the chops when you are finished searing.
Heat a HEAVY cast-iron or stainless steel ovenproof
pan over med-hi heat until a few drops of water sprinkled in the pan evaporate
within 3 seconds. THEN, after the pan is sufficiently hot – coat the bottom of
the pan with about 2 tsp grapeseed or canola oil. This is important – follow the rule of “hot pan, cold
oil = no stick”. Why? The metal of the pan is full of pores that expand
when heated and allows the oil to settle in those pores. If you add oil to cold
pan the surface tension of the oil is so great that it will "pool"
and rest on top of those pores, when you add meat, its weight will push the
food product into the grain that is not lubricated and your food will stick.
The oil will heat quickly in the hot pan – look carefully, it should shimmer. Now add your veal chops to the pan. They should not crowd each other. If necessary, use two pans or sauté in batches. DO NOT MOVE THE CHOP!! Let it create the sear. Regardless of thickness of your chops, it should sear for 3 minutes on each side, flipping only once with tongs. (See, it did not stick!) Transfer the chops, STILL IN THE PAN, into the 400 degree F oven. Roast for about 7- 8 minutes for medium-rare (insta-read thermometer of 130 - 135 degree F). Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board.
Scatter the arugula on a large platter, and place the chops on top. Spoon about a tablespoon of the green salsa (see below) over each chop, and drizzle a little more over the greens. I love to serve this with the Summer Squash Gratin with Green Salsa and Gruyere (see post next week!). A California Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or Red Bordeaux would be a terrific wine pairing for this spectacular meal.
Using a mortar and pestle, pound 1½ tsp marjoram or oregano, ¼ C chopped mint, and 1½ C chopped parsley. (You may have to do this in batches.) Work in some of the olive oil, and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Pound the garlic clove and anchovy, and add them to the herbs. (do not omit the anchovy - it is just a way to get some flavored salt -there is no substitute! - it will mush into nothing)
This salsa is used on the veal chops and arugula as well as an integral part of the Summer Squash Gratin (see this post for the recipe). If you choose not to make the gratin, you should cut the ingredients by 2/3rds.