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Lamb or Veal…hmmm?

My neighbourhood Rowe Farms butcher and I had a nice long telephone chat the other day. I was looking for some osso bucco veal shanks to impress my nephew who loves them. I told my butcher that I didn’t feel right buying veal. It’s about the moral issues involved in farming and slaughtering young cattle. He said they didn’t carry veal products, but he then proceeded to say “People who eat lamb don’t seem to have any issues about that aspect, they don’t see that veal and lamb have the same situation”. Well he didn’t say it exactly in those words. But I heard his message. We both agreed that if we boycott veal, we should probably stop buying lamb too. Something to think about.

I try to buy meats that have been handled and slaughtered in a humane way. My philosophy is that we require meat in our diets. Not a whole lot of red meat. Stick to the pink, lean ones as part of a healthy diet regimen. Eat plenty of fish and seafood. Treat yourself once in a while to meats you enjoy. It’s hard not to be hypocritical on these views when you are a foodie. Chefs are taught to use all parts of an animal that gave their lives to let you live. The food chain. I agree with that philosophy too. Are all animals fair game? Pun intended.

Children in Europe are socialized and witness to where meat actually comes from. I don’t mean at the grocery store like our kids are lead to believe. It seems there’s a respect for life, food, and family sharing. Mealtime is meant as a bonding experience. I like that philosophy too.

Last few shopping trips to Costco, I picked up a very inexpensive cut of veal. Have you ever tried a veal bottom blade roast? It is rolled and has just the perfect amount of fat for flavour. It needs to be braised for at least 3 hours, unless you have a pressure cooker. The last time I purchased the veal roast, I wanted to try something different. The first time I used chicken stock and wine as the braising liquid. It was delicious and light in flavour. This time I decided to kick up the flavour with a little more depth. Root beer anyone? Not just any root beer. I used Blue Sky Natural Soda, made with unprocessed cane sugar. It does not contain any artificial flavours, colours, caffeine, or preservatives. It still is sugar though. I only used a can for four people. Shouldn’t do too much damage. Everything in moderation. My recipe can be prepared and cooked in about an hour. The meat costs less than $12.00 at Costco. It serves 4 people with some leftovers for the chef’s lunch.

I am still deciding my stance on eating veal. My Mom, a wonderful cook, made it often. My childhood memories dictate it’s ok to consume once in a while. I don’t like the gamey taste of lamb so that’s a no brainer. The veal issue still weighs heavy on me. My Rowe Farms butcher had me meditating on the subject. For those who want to give it a try, here’s my outstanding recipe for flavourful Veal Bottom Blade Roast.

Root Beer and Wine Braise Veal Bottom Blade Roast

1 kg (2.2 lbs) Veal Bottom Blade Roast 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 large onion, diced 6 large garlic cloves, sliced 1 large sprig rosemary 1 large sprig thyme 1 can Blue Sky Natural Soda 1/3 cup dry red wine 3 large carrots, large bite sized pieces 2 large parsnips, large bite sized pieces 1 sweet potato, large bit sized pieces 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup water to make a slurry (smooth) coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Season Roast all over with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

  2. In a large pot or pressure cooker, heat oil and brown the roast on all sides.

  3. Take roast out.

  4. Add onions and sauté until just soft. Then add the garlic and rosemary. Stir for to combine flavours.

  5. Add the root beer and wine to deglaze.

  6. Place the roast back into the pot. Add the rest of the vegetables.

  7. Bring to a boil. Then put into oven at 350 degrees F. And braise for 2 to 3 hours.

  8. Periodically check liquid levels. Meat is done when tender ie.e a fork slides through the roast easily.

  9. Take roast out to rest for 5 minutes.

  10. Take vegetables out of the pot. Taste, and if necessary, season with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring juices to a boil.

  11. Add the cornstarch mixture and boil until just beginning to thicken.

  12. Slice and serve roast and veggies with rich pan juices on top of rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes.

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