Years ago on a family visit to France, my amazing Grandma-in-law, Mami, introduced me to the best thing I ever tasted: blanquette de veau. Everything Mami made was the best thing I ever tasted even before that fateful meal, but blanquette de veau was one that made the angels sing inside my head and I knew that I had tasted the most precious gem of French cuisine.
Naturally, I freaked out about how good it was and I couldn’t stop rambling on about how life-changing this beautiful white stew was for me. Mami was laughing in her sweet way, calling me her petite gourmande, and motioned me to join her in the kitchen.
It was there she explained to me how to make this glorious warm pot of creamy heaven. She told me that in traditional blanquette, all of the ingredients must be a shade of white (white mushrooms, white onions, white sauce) and that you must never brown the meat or any of the ingredients so that they stay white. Then the blanquette must be served over white rice so that the whole meal is white, creamy and perfect.
In my humble opinion, blanquette is the most shiny diamond of traditional French bourgeois cooking. For me, it’s the ultimate comfort food meal, not only because it fills my tastebuds with joy, but also fills my heart with the happiest of memories.
8 c. chicken broth
3 lb. veal of beef shoulder, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 onion, quartered
1 celery stalk, cut into four pieces
2 carrots, cut into halves
2 leeks, white parts only, halved and cleaned
5 cloves garlic, smashed
8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered
4 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of parsley
Salt and pepper
16 oz. pearl onions, peeled
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
¾ c. heavy cream
2 egg yolks
Fresh parsley, for serving
In a large stockpot, combine meat, onion, celery, carrots, leeks, garlic, thyme and parsley. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1.5-2 hours, skimming occasionally. When meat is tender (but not mushy), drain it through a strainer. Reserve the stock and discard the vegetables and herbs.
In the meantime, boil the pearl onions for 3-5 minutes, or until tender and drain. In a skillet, heat oil over medium high heat and cook mushroom and onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and egg yolks. Set aside.
Wipe out the stockpot and melt butter (being careful not to burn it). Add flour and whisk together for one minute. Whisk in 3 cups of stock and cook for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the cream and egg mixture. Add the meat, mushrooms and onions and simmer for about 5 minutes. Season by salt and pepper. Top with parsley and serve over rice.