Saturday, June 15, 2013

Jelled Veal (Gluten Free)

Jelled veal is one of those 50s recipes in which the jelled state was thought elegant. I remember eating vast quantities of jellied beef consume for a first course was I was growing up. My husband, when he encountered it, called it beef jello and declined to eat it. Jellied consume was punctuated by jellied chicken soup. or chicken jello, if you will. I also remember a cousin's wedding in Westchester County somewhere about 1959 or 1960 which featured tomato aspic or tomato jello.
I must say, nowadays, the idea of jelled veal does not inspire universal delight in the populace. My extremely polite daughter-in-law made a very minor face when I was telling her and her husband about the jelled veal I made for Bob's cookout. So I was  gratified when Karen, one of the guests at the cookout, demanded to know if it was head cheese, and told me she grew up eating head cheese and just loved it. She was not dismayed by learning it was jelled veal.
I made it for the cookout because I have a theory about this nontraditional food. I figure if a large group of people is given the opportunity to try it, along with the hamburgers and hot dogs, some of them will try it and like it. It is unfair,  however, to serve it as the main dish. People who are repulsed by the very idea of veal would have to go hungry, and that is not hospitable.
Jelled veal is a day before dish. You have to boil 4 veal shanks and a veal knuckle for three hours, until the meat falls off the bones. Then, you boil down the broth, pack the meat into a loaf pan and pour the broth on top of it. Then, let it chill overnight.
I did all these things. Bob got the veal shanks at Union Meat in Eastern Market. I started boiling everything on Friday afternoon after I got back from the gym. The boiling was interrupted when Bob and I decided we really needed some coffee, and so walked up to Starbucks in Chevy Chase for an infusion of caffeine. I finished the whole process after we came back from a cabaret night at church. I took the meat off the bones, chopped it and shredded it, and poured the reduced broth on top of the meat.
The next morning, I checked it. Jelled to perfection.
To be honest, not too many people ate it at the cookout. Karen said she encouraged people to try it, and some did. My brother had some, and liked it well enough to eat some more for breakfast on Sunday morning.
So how does it taste? Well, like bits of cold meat, lightly held together with...veal jello. It's a little bland. It might be good on a sandwich with mayonnaise. But it is not in any way repulsive. So, if you want to recreate the 50s elegance of a summer buffet, try jelled veal and maybe tomato aspic.

Jelled Veal

4 veal shanks, split (The veal shanks available for sale now are only about two inches high, so splitting is not necessary.)
1 veal knuckle bone
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 ribs celery, diced
4 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
6 peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon chervil, if available (it wasn't)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

1.  Place the shanks, knuckle bone, onion, carrots, celery, parsley sprigs, bay leaf, salt, peppercorns and chervil in a kettle. Add water almost to cover.
2. Bring to a boil and boil vigorously, skimming off scum, five minutes. Cover and simmer gently three hours, or until meat is very tender. Leave shanks in broth until cool enough to handle.
3. Remove and discard knuckle bone. Remove meat from shanks. Dice meat and place in a one and one-half-quart to two-quart bowl or ring mold. Add the chopped parsley and green pepper and toss.
4. Strain the cooking broth into a saucepan and reduce by boiling until liquid measures two cups. Pour over the meat mixture. Cool and chill until firm.
5. Unmold and serve as luncheon or buffet dish or as sandwich filling. Makes six to eight servings.

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