Medallions of Veal with Wild Mushrooms

MontignacLost In Translation

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word April? Most people, I think, would say Spring. My first response? Paris. Not sure why—maybe it’s the song. I’m not one of those people you could call a francophile. I’ve only been to France, and Paris specifically, once. And even then my husband and I were there only a couple of days before heading out to eat and drink our way through the rest of the country, on our honeymoon road trip.

Perhaps it’s the romance. Springtime along the Seine does have it’s appeal. (A little wine. A little cheese. A baguette. The occasional Mime…) We, or course, were there in the Fall. It’s not a conscious decision to go against the grain. It just happens that way, not ’cause we’re hip and cool. We’re just a few degrees off normal.

We ate well, and my reasonable grasp of the French language served us in our travels…most of the time. There was one dinner where my over-confidence came back to bite me.

In the town of Montignac, just north of the Lascaux caves, we were staying at a great B&B. But we decided to go out to dinner that night instead of eating at the inn. We found a cute little bistro, and sat down for what we hoped would be a great meal.

Everything started well. I ordered in French and the waiter seemed to understand me but I knew I should have been concerned when I ordered the Rognon de Veau as our entrée and he looked impressed. The Veau part was easy to translate, Veal, but the Rognon part was way off base. Somehow (maybe it was the wine?) I got Rognon mixed up with Medallion when in fact Rognon means Kidney. I had ordered Veal Kidneys y’all! (Thank you karma. Yes you were right. I was getting too big for my britches.)

I’m an adventurous eater, but I draw the line at organ meats. (Pate being the exception). The tragic part was that up until that point our meal was outstanding, and you know that if we had been kindey eatin’ kind of people it would have been really good. I give my husband credit. He at least gave it a go. I couldn’t do it but I did eat everything else on my plate. The waiter snickered when he cleared our plates from the table.

The recipe below is what I pictured in my mind and what I thought we would be eating. Try not to snicker when you eat it! 

Medallions of Veal with Wild Mushrooms
Adapted from Saveur
Serves 4

True veal noisettes are pieces of the loin; this imaginative dish mimics them with long-cooked veal shanks tied in leeks.

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 5-lb. veal shank, cut into 4–5 pieces
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
12 black peppercorns
2 tbsp. heavy cream
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 long, unblemished leek leaves, blanched and halved lengthwise
1/2 lb. assorted wild mushrooms such as chanterelles,
fairy rings, or cèpes, cleaned and trimmed

Preheat oven to 300°.

Heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Generously season veal shanks with salt and pepper, then brown for 3–5 minutes on either side. Transfer to a plate.

Add carrots, onions, and shallots to the same pot, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add wine, scraping up browned bits stuck to bottom of pot, then add 3 cups water and peppercorns. Return shanks and any juices to pot, cover, and braise in the oven until meat is very tender, about 3 hours.

Remove pot from oven and transfer shanks to a plate. Strain broth through a sieve into a medium saucepan, pressing on vegetables with the back of a spoon. Reduce broth over high heat to 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add cream, and simmer for 2 minutes. Strain sauce into a clean saucepan and whisk in all but 1 tbsp. of the butter, 1 small piece at a time. Keep sauce warm over very low heat.

Meanwhile, remove and discard bones and gristle from meat, then separate meat into small pieces. Assemble “medallions” by dividing meat into four portions, forming each into a circle with pieces standing upright and wrapping each with a leek leaf. Transfer carefully to a heat-proof plate. Cover with plastic wrap, set plate on a rack set over a pan of simmering water, cover, and steam until heated through, 5–10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, 2–3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, divide warm sauce between 4 plates. Place 1 medallion on top of sauce on each plate, then arrange mushrooms next to each medallion.

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