‘At last!’ I hear you cry, ‘a blinking meat dish after all that fish.’ It seems a bit counter-intuitive to show you a picture of Venice and then give you, a Milanese dish. But I first tasted this in Venice many years ago.
If that summons up romantic images of expensive eateries, sighing bridges and carolling gondoliers, please disabuse yourself. We were hard-up for cash, staying in a modern hotel on the mainland and eating in an unlovely neighbourhood trattoria. But I’ve never forgotten the veal, bread-crumbed and cooked until juicy and golden, sprinkled with salt and drenched in lemon juice.
There was a time when on welfare grounds I wouldn’t touch veal with a barge pole (or whatever gondoliers use). But I’m happy to say the ugly process of crating calves is now banned in the EU, though I believe it’s still legal in the US.
In addition, British veal calves aren’t fed exclusively on milk but have proper roughage in their diet, producing a pinker ‘rosé’ veal. It means the meat has more flavour, it’s kinder to the animals, and its production allows dairy farmers to give unwanted bull calves a short but happy life rather than slaughtering them at birth. You can read more here.
Talking of higher welfare, I would recommend that you don’t use those vile orange-coloured things sold as breadcrumbs in this country. If you don’t have time to make your own, crush up panko breadcrumbs a bit smaller.
A few sautéed potatoes and a green salad make this an easy but satisfying supper.
2 thin veal escalopes
1 egg, beaten with a little water
1 heaped tbsp seasoned flour
3-4 tbsp breadcrumbs
Oil for frying
Lemon wedges, to serve
Place the veal between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash fairly gently with a rolling pin – you want them to be flattened but not annihilated.
Dip first into seasoned flour, tapping off any excess, then into beaten egg, then breadcrumbs, until well coated.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan in a medium-high heat and fry on both sides until golden. Sprinkle with salt and serve at once with lots of lemon.
What a great dish and with it comes Venice. Wonderful. It’s a one of a kind city. As for the veal raising, yes, crating is still allowed. Some farmers, however, have stopped the practice. I googled “humane veal” and found farms in my area and where their veal is sold. The inhumane crating will stop when enough people refuse to buy it.
Thank you John, and yes, Venice is a wonderful city in all of its moods. I do so agree with you on the crating issue – if we as shoppers refused to buy crated veal there’d be no market, ergo no crates. Can’t happen too soon for me. Lx
Oh, Venice. It doesn’t matter where you stay. We were an hour or so away near Padua yet drove there every chance we could. How I loved it! And John is right. Bad practices are not banned in the US (add crated veal to about a million others), but thankfully there are many people doing good things despite our stupidity overall. Your Milanese looks grand.
Thanks Michelle, let’s hope the balance tips in favour of more humane practices soon. And it’s Carnivale in Venice now – wish we were all there, eating cicchetti. Lx
Like you, when in Venice – or anywhere on the continent really, at lunchtime we follow the men in overalls to their eatery of choice. Never fails. And like you, I was a veal refuser, but I’ve not yet got back into the habit of eating it. Perhaps you’ve tempted me, because I have Italian memories of this dish too.
Good tip, Margaret! The best profiteroles I ever ate were in a lorry drivers’ cafe in France. Him Outdoors likes veal more than I do, to be honest, but I do love this particular dish. Simple but good. Lx