Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home
The best two food books Gothamist has enjoyed over the past few years are unquestionably Kitchen Confidential and Soul of a Chef. While Soul of a Chef sparked our obsession towards all things Thomas Keller, Kitchen Confidential unveiled the best chef we had never heard of – Scott Bryan of Veritas.
Author and brutally honest chef Anthony Bourdain waxes on about the technical precision and flawless cooking style of Bryan, reciting stories about how he’d head to Veritas after a long night of cooking at Les Halles to enjoy Bryant’s down home but refined food.
But how had chef obsessed Gothamist let Bryan slip under the culinary radar? Bourdain writes that Bryan actively avoids the celeb chef PR machine and his restaurant, Veritas, gets most of its press for its massive wine list. But even beyond these factors, Bryan’s culinary style is also a factor. He doesn’t spend his time thinking of the next trend or how to push the envelope beyond the classics he has mastered. He’ll most likely never invent a dish or generate the hype like inventive, creatively driven chefs Wylie Dufresne or Thomas Keller.
His menus, at first glance, look delicious but spare and simple. Lobster salad – been there, done that. Mushroom tart – uh huh. Braised veal with vegetables - sounds great but pretty straight forward. On a recent night of celebration, we gave this simple menu a sample to see if it indeed could be as perfect as Kitchen Confidential testified.
The result: the best braised course we’ve ever had. Bar none. Since it’s so simple, we’ve recreated it for you in this week’s Gothamist Recipe.
Tender Braised Veal
Parsnip Puree, Braised Carrots and Mushrooms
We can’t think of a better dish to make on a cold and rainy Sunday winter afternoon. You can substitute short ribs, pork shoulder or leg of lamb for the veal if necessary. The veal breast is one of the most economical cuts of meat, so you’ll also be happy with the cost of this dish. Serve this with a side salad as well.
You should begin this about 4 hours before dinner, allowing the slow braise to not only produce a tender juicy veal, but to also allow the braising liquid to reduce and create the perfect sauce for the dish. The key here is in browning the meat before braising – the browner the sear, the more flavorful the sauce.
Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves four people, but can serve two with leftovers for lunch or dinner the next night.
3 lbs veal breast with bone (below)
vegetable or olive oil
1 head of garlic
2 bay leaves
1 bag baby carrots
1 package or 1/3 lb white or crimini mushrooms
4 medium large parsnips
1 bottle dry red wine (see below)
1 can/box strained tomatoes (see below)
1 bunch rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pint half and half
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 bunch rosemary
Estimated cost of ingredients: $28 at Fairway (wine cost included)
Food processor or blender for parsnip puree
Large strainer or colander
6qt oven ready pot
Notes on Buying Ingredients
You’ll be able to find veal breast at any butcher or higher end market. Choose a relatively inexpensive (like $10) but drinkable red wine for this dish – a Cote de Rhone, Australian shiraz or Italian sangiovese are all good options. You’ll have a few glasses left over for dinner as well. For the tomatoes, use strained Pomi brand or better yet, left over homemade tomato sauce.
Prep Braising Veggies
Finely chop half of the onion. Slice the mushrooms lengthwise. Remove needles from two rosemary stalks and chop finely. Finely chop 5 cloves of garlic. Take out half of the baby carrots from bag. Get tomato and wine ready and opened. Get bay leaves ready.
Sear and Brown Veal
Season meat on both sides with salt and pepper.
Get your large 6 qt pot on high heat. Add one glug or shallow layer of vegetable or olive oil to the pot. When just smoking, add the meat carefully to the pan. Let sear on one side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and do the same on the other side. Take the meat out of the pot and place on aluminum foil. Place this pot on low heat.
Prepare Braise and Put in Oven
Turn oven on to 325 degrees.
Carefully add all of the braising veggie ingredients you prepared above into the pot. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Sautee gently for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add about ten tablespoons of tomato to the pot. Add ½ bottle of the wine. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula and mix into the liquid. Add another pinch of salt and more pepper. Place the veal back into the pot and add water until the liquid barely covers the meat.
Place back on low heat until the liquid is barely simmering and immediately place into oven.
Note the time. The braise will take three hours to cook.
You should come back and check on the braise every hour or so, specifically noting the temperature of the liquid in the pot. You want it barely bubbling. If it is heavily simmering, reduce the heat. Boiling is a no-no and will make the meat tough.
Put the Parsnips in the Oven
You can begin this step at anytime while the braise is in the oven, ideally with about 1/2 hour to go on the braise.
Get a medium sized pot and fill with water. Add large pinch of salt and bring to a boil.
Peel all of the parsnips and cut off bottom root and tip. Slice each parsnip in half vertically. Slice the halves in half again vertically. Finally, slice all of parsnip slices in half horizontally. Add parsnips to the boiling water and cook until fork tender, about 5 minutes.
Make Parsnip Puree
Drain the parnsips and immediately place into the food processor. Add one tablespoon butter and about 1/3 cup half and half. Add pinch salt and pepper and puree until smooth, about 2 minutes. Check for seasoning and set aside.
Finish the Braise
Take the meat out of the oven after three hours. Let it rest for 15 minutes before proceeding.
Carefully remove the meat from the pot with large tongs. Place a colander or strainer over a clean pot that is big enough to collect the braising liquid. Pour all contents of the pot into the strainer and reserve the veggies. Taste and season veggies as necessary.
Taste the sauce that remains in your new pot. Add ½ tablespoon butter. Whisk and place on low heat. Warm your parsnip puree in the oven that is now turned off.
Lastly, pick through the meat with clean hands and remove some of the excess fat from the meat. This may require you to break down the meat to smaller pieces, which is fine.
Serve the Dish
Place a few tablespoons of parsnip puree on plate. Place a pile of the meat on top of the puree. Add the vegetables around the puree and spoon some of the sauce onto the veggies and meat.