Saturday, December 27, 2014

Escalope de Veau or Paillard de Veau. Veal in France II - A Veal Cutlet, Escalope, Escallop or Scallop.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Thinking about dining in France. 
Photograph courtesy of Stuck in Customs
Escalope or Paillard de Veau
A cutlet, escalope, escallop, or scallop of veal holds a unique position in the French kitchen.  A veal escalope, the word that I will use in this post, is a boneless cut usually cut into round or oval shapes.  A veal escalope us always thinly sliced, and then thinned some more to make sure the veal served is tender. France is the largest producer of veal in Europe and so definitely the place to enjoy a veal escalope.
The traditional French term for a veal escalope is a paillard; however, today the word escalope will be on more menus.  The word escalope may also be used for poultry, fish and pork so read the menu carefully. The North American usage of a scallop for an escalope can also cause confusion with the shellfish called the scallop.
Your menu may offer:
Veau Cordon Bleu – An escalope of veal wrapped around a slice of boiled ham and cheese, traditionally that is  French Gruyere though it is often made with Comte or Munster, breaded, and then fried.

     This is a dish from the mid-20th century; however, the Cordon Bleu, the  award of the blue ribbon, is much older. The Cordon Bleu was part of an award created by  King Henry III of France, in 1578, for outstanding service to the French Crown

The Cordon Bleu and cooking.
      The tradition connecting the Cordon Bleu to French cuisine is down to King Louis XV (1710-1777).  In the accepted tradition, King Louis XV presented the award to a female chef who had prepared for him a particularly outstanding and memorable meal. Following that award, the term Cordon Bleu  became a standard of excellence for food as well as other activities.

Cordon Blue Medal .
Photograph courtesy of  Magdiel Crisan.
      The first well-known French cookery school was called the Cordon Bleu, and it was founded by a lady named Marthe Distell in Paris in 1895.  Marthe Distell also founded an early publication for French foodies called La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu, the Cordon Blue Cuisine. That magazine did much to make the ordinary French citizen aware of changes in the kitchen just as the chef Escoffier began to make a name for himself.  When visiting Paris call ahead and take a one-day or a half-day course in English or French at the Cordon Bleu school.  View a demonstration dish being prepared before you register for that full three-year course! The Parisian Cordon Bleu English language website is: The school’s most famous American graduate is Julia Child.  
Escalope de Veau a la Crème - Lightly fried veal cutlets with a cream sauce usually including mushrooms.
Escalope de Veau a la Crème.
Photograph courtesy of balise42.

Escalope de Veau Chasseur -  A veal escalope as prepared for a hunter.  A lightly fried veal escalope served with wine sauce made with mushrooms and a roux brune, a basic brown sauce. The sauce will be flavored with shallots, bacon and sometimes crème fraiche. The classic dish served with this sauce is a tournedos chasseur.  
Escalope de Veau Milanaise Blonde d’Aquitaine -  Escalope de Veau Milanaise  may be translated as  the Italian Cotoletta alla Milanese or as a Weiner Schnitzel.  Here the veal comes form France's highly rated, Label Rouge, red label, Blond d'Aquitaine cattle. To hold the Label Rouge, or an AOP rating for veal the calves must be raised by their mothers, until weaned,  and then allowed to graze freely.   The breaded escalope Milanaise differs from the Vienna Schnitzel only by the absence of flour.  However, in Italy the cut used is usually different.
Escalope de Veau au Marsala – A veal escalope prepared with Marsala wine. Most of the recipes for this dish include mushrooms and cheese, some include cream .
A Marsala wine bottle.
Photograph courtesy of pwinn.
  Marsala wine took its name from the port town of Marsala in Sicily. The town that is also famous as the  birthplace of the Greek mathematician and philosopher Archimedes in 278 BCE.
  Marsala is a fortified wine and made in a similar manner to Port, Sherry, Madeira and the French vin doux naturels.  Marsala wines are used in many Italian dishes, and quite a few French ones. Marsala wine’s popularity comes, according to tradition, through the work of  a British gentleman by the name of John Woodhouse. Woodhouse managed to get Nelson’s fleet stocked up on Marsala wine instead of rum and the rest is history.
Escalope de Veau à la Normande – Veal cutlets prepared with onions, button mushrooms and crème fraîche; many recipes for this dish will include Norman cider.
Escalope de Veau  â la Normande
Photograph courtesy of Maggie Osterberg 

Norman Cuisine.
      Normandy makes a unique contribution to French cuisine. The region supplies 30% of all of France’s cream and cow’s milk and is the home to Calvados AOP apple brandy and some of the best cider in France. Apart  from its milk products, Normandy is famous for its cheeses, pré- salé lambs, fresh sea fish, farmed mussels, veal, farmed oysters, Rouen ducks, ducklings, seafood from the Atlantic and more.

     The name Normandie, Normandy, comes from the French name for the land when the Vikings lived there.  Nor-man-die is old French for "The Land of the Northern Men.”   William the Conqueror, who conquered England in 1066, was a direct descendant of the last Viking King of Normandy.  One of William’s descendants is the present Queen of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Escalope Viennoise or Escalope de Veau Viennoise – A Wiener schnitzel or Vienna schnitzel under its French name.  The original Wiener Schnitzel is the gold standard by which all other breaded veal cutlets are judged.   The French  have always respected Viennese chefs, and when the Wiener schnitzel was brought to France they did not withold the dish’s origin.

          Wiener Schnitzel is  thinly cut veal slices rolled in flour,  then eggs and  then bread crumbs, before frying in butter or oil.  When correctly cooked a good Wiener Schnitzel will have the bread crumbs held together by the flour but easily separated from the veal.  Wiener Schnitzel is traditionally served with potato salad, cucumber salad and a green salad along with boiled potatoes and a slice of lemon;  however, in France the chef may have other ideas.
A traditional serving of a Weiner Schnitzel.
Photograph courtesy of P Donovan.
      My Viennese, Austrian, Grandmother, introduced me to Weiner Schnitzel at an early age. Along with with Wiener Schnitzel came Apple Strudel, Kugelhof and more. Now some things the Viennese got right, not too many mind you, but Weiner Schnitzel was one of them. A Weiner schnitzel properly made is large, thin and one of tastiest veal dishes.   When ordering Weiner Schnitzel read the menu carefully. The word schnitzel on its own can refer to dishes made with chicken or turkey breast or pork.
Paillard de Veau, Beurre à l'Ail et au Cresson – A veal escalope made with garlic butter and watercress.
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Bryan G. Newman
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1 comment:

  1. We live in a great veal-producing region: veau de Ségala is a delicacy, and veau de l'Aveyron in general is quite highly thought of.