Blanquette de veau, a veal stew with a luscious wine-laced sauce, is classic Bonne Femme fare. While I enjoy it made with veal in France, at home, I substitute pork blade steak–a cut from the shoulder. Not only is it so much easier to find, but it’s a rich, bold, comforting cut of meat that feels right at home in this classic stew. It’s also a more foolproof cut of meat; while veal can be tricky and dry out if cooked too quickly, pork shoulder is much more forgiving.
For me, this is perfect Sunday night food–great for one of those autumn or winter weekends you just don’t want to end. Invite a couple friends over, open some wine (I like a good white Burgundy with this) and eke out as much pleasure from the evening as you can. As always with rich, meaty dishes, a garlicky green salad will go well with this. For dessert, a few hunks of cheese alongside bread and some high-quality honey or preserves will do just fine.
Makes 6 servings
3 – 3 1/2 pounds pork blade steak (also called pork steak)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, cut in half crosswise, then each half cut into quarters
1 celery rib including leaves, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bouquet garni*
4 carrots, cut into 1/4 x 2 inch sticks
1/2 16-ounce bag pearl onions
6 ounces fresh tiny button mushrooms (or use larger mushrooms, halved or quartered), stems
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Hot parsleyed noodles, for serving
1. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Cut pork off the bone into 1 to 2 inch pieces, trimming most of the fat away as you go. Season pork to taste with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or a braiser over medium to medium-high heat. Cook the pork, half at a time, in hot oil for 5 to 7 minutes per batch, turning as needed to brown evenly. Drain any fat and return all meat to the pot. Stud two of the onion quarters with the cloves; add the onion quarters, carrot, celery, wine, broth, and bouquet garni to the pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat, and simmer, covered, about 45 minutes or until pork is tender.
2. About 15 minutes toward the end of the cooking time for the pork, prepare the vegetables: In a large saucepan, bring the four cut carrots, the frozen pearl onions, and 1/4 cup lightly salted water to boiling; cover and simmer over medium heat for 4 minutes or until just tender. Drain and remove vegetables to a colander. In the same saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Cook and stir the button mushrooms in the butter for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender and light brown. Return onions and carrots to the pot; set aside and cover to keep warm.
3. Drain the pork, reserving the cooking stock. Wipe out any residue in Dutch oven. Place pork in a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm; discard other solids, including the cloves and bouquet garni. Skim fat from the cooking stock; pour through a fine-mesh sieve back into the Dutch oven. Bring to boiling and boil until reduced to 2 cups.
4. Work the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the flour together to form a paste. Drop into cooking stock, half a time, cooking and stirring with a wire whisk after each addition until well integrated. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir 1 minute more; add the cream, stirring with a wire whisk to combine.
5. Return meat to Dutch oven; add vegetables and lemon juice. Cook and stir very gently to heat through. Serve with hot parsleyed noodles or baked rice.
* Note: For a bouquet garni, using kitchen string tie together 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 5 sprigs parsley, and one bay leaf (or tuck these into an bouquet garni cheesecloth spice bag). Or use a purchased bouquet garni.