Working with Veal Breast

Chances are you’ve never seen a veal breast. I know I hadn’t up until recently, when my local supermarket found itself with some mistakenly ordered whole veal sides.

A veal breast is the same cut of the cow as a brisket. Since the veal is so much younger, it hasn’t had the time to develop quite the same marbling and fat layer that you would find on a brisket.

It is however, delicious. After contemplating a preparation for half a day or so, it struck me. A roulade. Jump with me to see how it’s done!

A veal breast is a perfect candidate for making a roulade. It is fairly uniform in shape, thickness and texture and prefers to be cooked low and slow.

My veal breast came with the first four ribs attached, as most do. The whole breast can be roasted with the ribs attached, (my butcher tells me this is her preferred method) but for the roulade I have removed and reserved them for use in another dish.

Rib-less veal breast:

Once our breast has been taken care of, set it aside and turn your attention to preparing the filling for our roulade.

Veal Breast Roulade

For the filling:

3-5 lbs, veal breast. Ribs removed
3 links good andouille sausage, casings removed
3 celery ribs, chopped. (About 3/4 cup)
1 large/2 medium vidalia onions, medium dice
5 sprigs, fresh thyme
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
For the braising liquid:

2 28 oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes, with liquid
the leaves of 2-3 stalks of fresh marjoram, chopped
2 tsps, red pepper flake
2 tbsp brown sugar
reserved leftover stuffing
Start by getting some heat on your sausages in your largest cast iron pan. The other great thing about this dish? It’s basically a one-pot (and one mixing bowl )meal. Trust me, Sara appreciates this! :yes:

Once the sausages have cooked remove and reserve them. Now reduce your flame and add the chopped onion, celery and the leaves of one to two sprigs of the fresh thyme to the pan. Adjust the fat level and season as necessary- I removed some of the fat from the sausages, but ended up having to add some basil and garlic olive oil to them.

Cook until the celery has softened and the onions are translucent. About 10 minutes or so. Remove to a mixing bowl.

Combine the sausage, onions, celery and thyme in the bowl. Add bread crumbs and stir to combine. It will look something like this: If the stuffing is too loose, you can always add additional bread crumbs.

Now, it’s time to assemble. This is the only part of this process that is tricky, but there are a couple of things that you can do to assure success. First, place your veal breast on a flat surface and liberally season both side with salt and pepper.

Next, place a thin layer of stuffing in the middle of the veal breast. The #1 mistake people make with a roulade like this is over-stuffing, so make sure that you are realistic about what constitutes a thin layer! Go ahead and firmly push the stuffing into the meat- just remember to leave yourself roughly 1/2 to 3/4″ from the sides and the ends of the veal breast. This will ensure an excellent roll.

There will be stuffing left over, reserve this. We’re going to use it later.

As you roll, make sure you “tuck” the meat in as you go. This will ensure that you are rolling as tightly as you can, and will help keep everything together.

Once you have completed your roll, tie everything up with butchers twine. Your tied and rolled roulade is now ready for the heat. All of the previous steps can be completed a day or two in advance. Just stash your rolled and tied breast in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Just make sure that you allow the roulade to come to near-room temperature before proceeding.

Next step is the sear. Crank up the heat on your cast iron pan and search each side of the roulade-roughly 2 minutes/side. Start the roulade on the far edge of the pan and when you are ready to roll it, roll it towards the other edge. That way when you get to the other side of the pan, you know you are done. Because the shape of the roulade is a little irregular, I had to hold it in place with tongs to prevent it from “rocking” back to a previously seared portion.

Our next step is a braise. Since we are dealing with a brisket-like piece of meat, I borrowed and adapted part of Sara’s delicious brisket recipe. Combine the tomatoes (and their liquid,) marjoram, red pepper flake, brown sugar and reserved left-over stuffing and add the roulade to the mixture. Use your kitchen shears to roughly cut up the tomatoes so they burst and give for the liquid inside. Add a little salt and pepper, but note that we are going to be reducing the cooking liquid into a delicious reduction, so be gentle.

Pop the cover on and cook over low heat for about 3 hours. If you needed the stove space, you could alternatively cook this in a 275 degree oven. After three hours, your roulade will look like this:

Next, remove the roulade to rest for 20 minutes and strain the cooking liquid reserving both the liquids and the solids. We’ve got sausage, tomatoes and herbs captured here in the strainer.

Add the juice back to the pan and crank up the heat to reduce. While the sauce is reducing, slice your roulade into 1.5″ slices.

When the sauce has reduced to your liking it’s time to serve. I chose to serve this over a quick hash of red potatoes and onions, and it turned out to be the perfect complement. Place your slices of roulade over the hash and spoon on a couple of spoonfuls of the reserved sausage and tomato that was strained out then sauce to your liking. Sprinkle on some fresh thyme and garnish and you are ready to eat!

This dinner was a real hit in our house. If you are daunted by roulades, or have had bad experiences in the past, I highly suggest trying this one out. It is great for a nice family meal, and can also be an impressive meal to entertain with. Being able to toss together a roulade is a great skill to have in your bag, and once you try a few you will be itching to get into some of the more complicated applications of the roulade (like duck!.)