Thursday, May 7, 2009

What about Bob?

Today we did our lesson on veal. I showed the class a leg of quality choice graded veal. It weighed about 46 lbs and I explained that this was a typical size for veal in today's marketplace. We divided the leg into sections and then cut some very nice scaloppine cutlets.

Afterward, we began our lecture for the day and I started with the different classes of veal available. The youngest veal found in the marketplace is bob veal. Bob veal is extremely small compared to regular veal and has a very mild taste. About 15 - 20% of all veal slaughtered in the US is Bob veal and it is typically sold as an inexpensive alternative to larger formula/ milk replacer fed veal.

So what about Bob veal? Is it tender? Yes, very tender. So why not use it? It is so young it hasn't developed any real flavor and it is almost too tender where the meat is almost jello-like. I know of a chef that used bob veal racks cut into small chops, frenched to the eye ( lollipop chop) then breaded with Panko breadcrumbs and shaved Parmeasean cheese. It was served as a passed appetizer. I've seen it also sold as "suckling veal" also even though it is typically only a couple weeks old and may never had actual milk. It worked Ok in these applications.

Another issue I recently read about is the fact the some producers were giving their cows a dose of antibiotics while pregnant and it resulted in the antibiotic ending up in the veal. Typically an animal must be off antibiotics for at least thirty days before slaughter. Unfortunately the bob veal are younger than that when slaughtered resulting in a positive residue test on some.

The decision to cut down on food cost has resulted in many chefs considering Bob veal as an alternative to quality veal. It is a decision that should be made with the chef understanding the downsides.