Monday, August 9, 2010

Angus Veal is Real!

Veal in the US is traditionally from Holstein cattle due to the fact that it is primarily the male offspring that aren't usable on the dairy farm. The Holstein can be raised as beef and this is done often but the meat quality is not as desired as from other "meat" breeds such as Angus or Charolais.

About three weeks ago we had the chance to break down an entire veal carcass in class. Chef Soileau purchased it from Hackett Farm, Salt Point NY. It was unique in that it wasn't the typical Holstein veal that we find in most markets, its was from Angus. The idea of taking a higher quality meat breed and harvesting it much younger enabled us to compare these veal. The carcass was a true milk fed product and the calf had been feeding on real milk for its early life but had started to eat some pasture. It was about 4 1/2 months old and weighed about 225 for the cleaned carcass, which is smaller than most of the veal that is found in the commercial marketplace today.

Chef Dave Kamen divided the carcass into the primal cuts and then my class turned everything into roasts , stew, cutlets, chops and grind. We left the breast whole for stuffing.

The color was a little more red than most veal we get but the conformation was very good. The Angus traits could be seen in the nice oval chops. We had aged it for about 8 days so it was nice and firm when we cut it. Most veal is packed about a day after slaughter and it never gets a chance to set up properly. The aging improved its flavor. When I called Chef Soileau about what he thought of it he said " Oh Man! Butter! Best ever! "
Don't expect the veal industry to jump on this band wagon though. Angus calves are very costly as a feeder stock and it may not make economic sense to raise Angus for veal but it was a delight to see this meat and taste the end result.