In stark contrast, take our farm. We have over 180 acres where on any given day you will see cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens enjoying the sunshine and grazing green pastures (and occasionally Grandma’s flower gardens – but that’s another story). Our animals are happy with free access to feed, clean water, shelter, and companionship. So the question is how to incorporate veal into our operation while staying true to our priority for happy, naturally and humanely raised livestock.
Our family owns and manages a cow/calf beef operation — meaning that we keep a herd of 40-50 mother cows on the farm that calve every spring. Those calves stay with the cows until weaning time when they weigh approximately 400-500 lbs. We then sell them to another farmer who continues to feed them, finishing them to 1100-1200 lbs for harvesting. We keep back a small group of calves to feed out, but simply do not have the pasture nor the market to finish 40+ calves a year.
But wait, when you really think about it, veal could be a very natural part of our operation. So we decided to harvest one of the weanling calves to give it a try. Unlike the pale milk-only fed veal you find in the grocery story you will see that ours has a nice rose color. This is from a combination of sunshine, exercise, mother’s milk, and pasture. And because our veal is from beef breeds (instead of dairy breeds) you can expect it to be flavorful, tender, and meatier. Our veal calves are not artificially raised but left on the cow to be raised the way nature intended and with no undue stress.
We can’t wait to see what you think! Here is a great recipe to get you started.
8 veal cutlets or chops
freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
2 ounces assorted mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
Leaves from 1 fresh rosemary sprig
Season veal with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add 4 veal cutlets and cook until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer the veal to a plate. Add another tablespoon of butter and oil, if necessary.
Repeat with the remaining 4 cutlets. Set cutlets aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add shallot and garlic. Saute until soft, about 30 seconds. Add a tablespoon of the olive oil, if necessary. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender and the juices evaporate, about 3 minutes. Add the Marsala wine. Simmer until the wine reduces by half, about 2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and the rosemary leaves. Simmer until reduced by half.
Return the veal to the skillet. Pour in all of the pan juices. Cook just until heated through, turning to coat, about 1 minute. Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into the sauce.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.