Veal roast with apples and cider

I am lucky to have a good, well-provided and reasonably priced butcher’s. Sometimes, however, I run into something even better when I have the possibility to buy directly from the producer.

In France you can go and visit a farm, you can order online or you can find them on producers’ markets and that is how I got to know the people of the Ferme du Grémonval – François and Fabienne Demarais – who rear boar, dear and cows on their large farm grounds near Neufchatel in Normandy, best know for its cheese.

We’ve met them at several markets and we have been twice to their farm. The last time they were in our neighbourhood I had bought some veal.

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Veal kidneys with broad beans

The French eat more offal than many other nationalities. In the Netherlands, I sometimes ate liver or blood sausage but that was about it. In France, I discovered sweetbread, kidney and spleen but I have not yet dared to eat heart or lungs.

A French editor once tested my willingness to adapt to France and the French way of life by ordering me a plate of slightly cooked kidneys with lasagne. The dish looked gross but I did acquire a taste for it.

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Veal kidney, stock and mustard sauce

I can still remember the first time I had veal kidney, rognons de veau. It was in 1994, I had started to work in Paris and the local editor-in-chief invited me for a lunch in rue Montorgeuil. Upstairs in a smokey restaurant, he ordered the days’ special and recommended it to me. Unsure whether it was a test, I acquiesced and a while later there were two plates with an oblong organ, dark red coloured and with a mustard sauce. It was a bit rubbery in bite but otherwise it was fine and I showed that I was open-minded and not too set in any fixed preconceptions, dietary or otherwise.

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Veal stew Marengo

French cuisine is full of myths, mystifications and fables. Classic recipes sometimes have disputed origins. So it is with dishes named ‘Marengo’, after the June 14, 1800, battle in northern Italy by Napoleon against the Austrians. One of the stories is that Napoleon’s cook, a Swiss chef named Dunand, the son of a chef for … Read more

Veal cutlets with lemon

Veal is a very tender and lean kind of meat. Please make sure you are buying meat from a calve that has been able to drink mother’s milk and walk around and not from an industrial ‘crate’ veal. This practice is luckily no longer tolerated in the European Union, but there remains a big difference … Read more