Back on the menu

Veal is officially OK to eat – as long as it's ethically farmed. Mark Hix gets creative with this delicious meat. Photographs by Jason Lowe

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I recently visited one of our veal producers, Brookfield Farm, just outside Poole. Veal had a terrible reputation for a while – rightly so, because of the way it was farmed – but these days there are plenty of British farms, such as Brookfield, rearing veal calves ethically and with the RSPCA's backing – and producing delicious meat to boot.

The idea of the visit was for Kevin Gratton, my head chef at HIX in Soho, and me to brainstorm with Darren North, our London butcher, Phil Frampton, our Bridport butcher, and the Brookfield Farm team to break down the carcass and come up with some new and interesting cuts. We spent the day with David Bayer and his team and really went to town on the carcass, trying to make good use of joints that would normally get minced or diced by your average butcher.

It's always interesting and inspirational when you are confronted by the carcass – it's not about just using the prime cuts but making good use of the secondary cuts, which makes sense from a cost point of view for both supplier and customer.

Serves 4



I do love a veal chop and if your butcher doesn't have them in stock, he should be able to order them for you. They naturally cut a bit on the large side, so you could easily share one between two and just carve it on a board at the table.

4 veal chops weighing about 350-400g each

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

200g girolles or other wild mushrooms, cleaned

50-60g butter

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2tbsp chopped parsley



Preheat a ribbed griddle pan, barbecue or heavy frying pan. Season the chops and lightly oil them. Grill for about 5-6 minutes on each side or a little longer, depending on the thickness, but keeping them pink.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the girolles and garlic on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, seasoning them and turning them as they are cooking until tender; then toss in the parsley. Serve the chops with the girolles scattered on top.



Serves 4 as main course



You can drop the quantities of this and serve it as a starter course if you wish. I've used a selection of heart, kidney and some testicles, or rognons blancs as they call them in France, and some sweetbreads. You can use either, or even use some calves' liver, up to you. I don't normally use gherkins in a salad like this but they work really well here, giving a nice acidic bite on the odd mouthful of leaves.

2 rognons blancs (testicles) or 120-150g sweetbreads

150g veal kidney, cut into 2cm nuggets and any sinew removed

1 veal heart, quartered and any sinew removed

Vegetable or corn oil for frying

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Flour for dusting

1 small egg, beaten

30g fresh white breadcrumbs

A couple of handfuls of small salad leaves and herbs, washed and dried

2 large gherkins, thinly sliced lengthways

1tbsp freshly grated horseradish



For the dressing

1tbsp sherry vinegar

4tbsp walnut or hazelnut oil

1tsp caster sugar



Put the testicles or sweetbreads in a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes, then leave to cool. Once cool enough to handle, dry off with some kitchen paper and remove the membrane and any fat. Have 3 dishes ready: one with seasoned flour, one with beaten egg and the third with the breadcrumbs. Cut the testicles or sweetbreads into cm-thick slices and coat them first in flour, dusting off the excess, then through the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry them for a couple of minutes on each side until crisp, drain on some kitchen paper and keep warm. Wipe out the pan, season the kidney and heart, heat some more oil and fry them on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, keeping them pink. To serve, whisk the sherry vinegar, walnut oil and sugar together and season. Toss the leaves and gherkin in the dressing and arrange on serving plates. Slice the heart and kidney and arrange in among the leaves with the testicles or sweetbreads and scatter the horseradish over.



Serves 6-8



This is traditionally made with pork but we have been utilising some breasts and flanks of veal in the restaurants recently to make good use of the whole carcass – this is a great cold dish to make with these cuts. You can serve this with piccalilli, gherkins or just some mustard and crusty bread.

1kg breast or flank of veal, trimmed of any fat

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped

12 black peppercorns

A few sprigs of thyme

10 cloves of garlic, peeled

About 1.5-2ltrs chicken stock to cover

50g chopped curly parsley (reserve the stalks)



The veal should be about 3cm thick, if not, cut it through with a sharp knife. Put the veal in a large saucepan with the other ingredients except the chopped parsley, cover well with the chicken stock, add a little salt, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about an hour.

Remove a piece and check if it's cooked and tender, if not, continue simmering until it's tender. Leave the veal in the liquid and remove about 4-5 ladles and strain into another saucepan through a fine-meshed sieve. Boil until it's reduced to about a ladle.

Remove the veal from the liquid and pat dry with some kitchen paper. Line a terrine mould or loaf tin or something similar with clingfilm, then lay enough pieces of veal onto the base to cover, brush the veal with the reduced cooking liquor and scatter with a generous layer of parsley, add another layer of veal, brush again with the liquid and scatter with parsley again. Repeat until the mould is full just above the top. Fold the excess clingfilm over and weight the terrine with something heavy. Place in the fridge for 24 hours to set.



Serves 4-6



We often make this dish with mutton or lamb and it's a great starter or snack with drinks. You can vary the sauce but I find acidic sauces work the best with a deep-fried dish like this.

300-400g boneless breast of veal with excess fat removed

1 head of garlic, halved and roughly chopped

A few sprigs of rosemary and thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3tbsp plain flour

2 medium eggs, beaten

60-70g fresh white breadcrumbs

Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

2-3tbsp mayonnaise

2tbsp capers, chopped

1tbsp chopped parsley

1 lemon quartered



Preheat the oven to 175C/gas mark 4. Place the veal in an ovenproof dish with a tight-fitting lid. Season well and scatter over the garlic, rosemary and thyme. Cover and cook in the oven for about 1 -2 hours, basting regularly, or until it's very tender – you may need to turn the oven down a little during cooking. Leave the veal to cool down overnight.

Scrape away any cooking fat residue from the breast and any surplus fat that hasn't rendered down during cooking. Cut the breast into rough -¾cm x 3-4cm strips. Have 3 bowls ready, one with the flour seasoned well, the second with the beaten eggs and the third with the breadcrumbs. Pass the strips of veal through the flour, shaking off any excess, then through the egg, again shaking off any excess and finally the breadcrumbs.

Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Mix the capers and parsley with the mayonnaise. Deep-fry the mutton in batches for 2-3 minutes, moving them around in the oil until golden and crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper. Serve with the lemon and sauce on the side.



Mark Hix was recently awarded the Evelyn Rose Award for Cookery Journalist of the Year by the Guild of Food Writers

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