Sunday, 19 June 2011

Veal Marsala

This is a lovely Sunday dinner dish, because although it is very special, it is very easy, and it doesn't take long to make. Please do not be put off by the main ingredient. Veal often has a bad reputation, but these days it can be undeserved. It used to be that all veal was from baby dairy cows who were cruelly taken from their mothers, crated and fed a diet of only milk. Some of it still is. However, veal crates were banned in the UK in 1990  and in Europe in of 2007 and the US and Canada are slowly following suit and banning them too. So if you can find pasture raised or free range veal, which is raised with the herd, it is no more cruel than any other kind of meat.

In fact, most male dairy cows are normally slaughtered just after birth as there is sadly no use for them in a dairy herd. However, if they can be humanely raised for veal, at least they have some life and their meat is not wasted. In fact, if you are an omnivore and consume dairy products, eating veal is no sin, provided you are sure it is rose veal, pasture raised, free range or organic. Rose veal, which is the most ethically raised of all, is the best veal you can buy. If you cannot get the right kind of veal, simply substitute turkey or pork escalopes in this recipe - but please, please make sure they too are pasture raised, free range or organic!

This recipe is special to me as it  is similar to the recipe that was served at our wedding. It was a controversial decision to serve veal at our wedding dinner, but I knew that the veal we had chosen was UK raised and as it was 1991, it was therefore not raised in crates, so I felt quite confident about it. It was definitely a shock to me when two of my bridesmaids refused to eat it (even though they knew it was on the menu in advance and we had offered a vegetarian option). They would not accept that crated veal was by then illegal and definitely not on the table, but that was back in the day when people were much less aware of what was actually going on with their food and jumped to conclusions very quickly. Everyone else, who was either better informed or blissfully oblivious, appeared to enjoy it! Those two bridemaids had vegetarian meals provided at the last minute, but my Dad had to pay for the meals they refused to eat as well, and it was really upsetting, especially as we had taken care to ensure that everything on the table was ethically sourced (well, as much as you could back in 1991!).

Anyway, up until very recently I had only had Veal Marsala in restaurants, but I love it so I recently developed a recipe just using my memory of how it tastes. It may not be authentic, but it tastes like it is, and my version is incredibly easy to make. Just put some pasta on to cook, and you can whip up this recipe in minutes.

To serve four people you need:-

¼ cup mild olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1½ cups sliced mushrooms
½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup Madeira (you can substitute good sherry if you cannot get Madeira)
2½ cups chicken stock (or veal stock if  you can get it)
¼ cup plain (all purpose) flour
salt and pepper
4 large veal escalopes or 8 small ones

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes until it begins to soften and become translucent, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms and cook for five minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile mix the flour, salt and pepper together on a large plate.

Turn up the heat a bit, and add the Madeira to the onion and mushroom mixture.  Allow to reduce for a couple of minutes and then add the chicken or veal stock.
Coat the veal escalopes in the flour, salt and pepper and add them to the sauce mixture in the frying pan. Cook for three to four minutes each side in the sauce (which will thicken as the meat cooks in it) depending on how well done you like your veal (or turkey or pork!).

Serve each person one escalope over pasta with lots of sauce.


  1. Wow, it is amazing the stuff one can learn through blogs. I had no idea about the whole controversy with veal. But it sounds that there are better laws in place to regulate that. But i must say, your dish looks they always do :)

    Maria @ A Platter of Figs

  2. This looks really delicious and I've yet to actually try my hand at veal marsala. Great post!


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