Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Retro recipe: Scalopine de Veau Linda

A frying pan of veal being flambeed with brandy
How much brandy do you need for flambeeing anyway?

By: Mrs Robot

You know that feeling when you first make something and you think, "This tastes like something I'd buy in a restaurant"? That's how we felt the first time I made Scalopine de Veau Linda.

The Complete Hostess by Quaglino
Our copy of The Complete Hostess by Quaglino is in pretty good shape for its age!

The recipe comes from The Complete Hostess by Quaglino. Yes, the actual Quaglino, whose restaurant was the place to be seen in 1930s London and is still pretty swanky today. I picked up the book in Oxfam in the late 1990s. It cost £6.99, which was a lot for a secondhand book then, especially as I wasn't much of a cook, but I loved the 1930s deco styling. When I looked at it properly for the first time I was shocked to find that in most of the recipes, there were no quantities!

Sometimes the recipes were unhelpful in the extreme: Sole Dieppoise, for example, is simply "Poached. Cover with white wine sauce mixed with its reduce stock, and garnish Dieppoise." WHAT IS A GARNISH DIEPPOISE? If you don't know, Quaglino isn't going to tell you. On the other hand, Quaglino is very good at specifying things like a 1926 Lanson champagne (anyone want a kidney?), and as he discusses ingredients it really opens your eyes to the seasonality of foods in the 1930s, and to how hard it was to get certain things, even for the class of person who'd be using the book. Vintage port? Easy. Green pepper? Ooooooh, exotic!

Asparagus, green beans and potato cakes on a wooden board
First, prepare your veggies...

At least all the ingredients for Scalopine de Veau Linda are all stated, and the method easy enough to follow. Because it's so quick to make, I prepared the veggies for tonight's tea first: green beans, asparagus, and little bubble-and-squeak cakes. The latter were made from leftover new potatoes and savoy cabbage and carrot from a previous meal; the carrots had been braised with star anise, butter and sugar so were packed with an unusual flavour. All very easy to assemble.

Cream and butter
Cream and butter. This is not for dieters.

As soon as the veggies were cooking I got my cast-iron frying pan really hot. I fried off seasoned veal escalopes in butter with button mushrooms, flambeed them with brandy, and finished them with cream, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and some chopped parsley. It really is that simple, though as with all simple things you need to watch the details. Don't be tempted to swap the butter for oil or (shudder) margarine as you need the flavour. It's very important to use button mushrooms for this as older, open-capped ones turn the sauce an unappealing grey. Likewise I get the pan really hot before popping the meat in as I like it to colour a bit, as this gives a lovely golden-brown tone to the sauce. Finally, add more brandy than you think you'll need, as the cream does soften all the other flavours.

Veal and mushrooms frying in a cast iron pan
I like to fry the mushrooms thoroughly. They absorb the butter and meat flavours.

A note on the veal: we buy British rose veal from our local butcher; the calf has not been crated, and has been allowed to run around. If you really don't like the idea of veal, I've also tried this technique with pork medallions cooked in butter with apple and flambeed with calvados, and that is also delicious.

veal and mushrooms frying in a pan with a cream sauce
Don't overcook the cream - you don't want it to separate.
The photos of the finished meal don't look that great. My presentation skills definitely need work. However, it tasted brilliant. Certainly nothing to sniff at after a day in the office!

Trust me, it tastes amazing - my presentation doesn't do it justice.

All images (c) PP Gettins

1 comment:

  1. Looks really delicious, but cripes, that those were approved as "recipes" is amazing... some of them would only be usable by someone who already knew the recipe and therefore wouldn't, um, need the recipe book!!!

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