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Tougher Veal Cuts Are Tenderized by Moist Cooking

January 25, 1990|JEAN ANDERSON and ELAINE HANNA | Anderson and Hanna are nutritionists and cookbook authors specializing in microwave cookery

Veal is so pricey these days that few of us would want to risk "roasting" a rib or loin by microwave. But there are tougher veal cuts filled with the sort of sinew and cartilage that cook to supreme succulence in the moist heat of the microwave oven--moderately priced breast of veal, for example, which is a particular favorite of the French.

Such tough cuts, however, should be treated kindly--creatively--if they are to tenderize as they cook. Too much heat, which in the microwave means too high a power, will merely make them tougher than they already are.

With our stuffed breast of veal, it's all right to get things bubbling with an initial blast on HIGH (100% power). But after 10 minutes, you should reduce the power to MEDIUM-HIGH (70% power) so that the meat cooks more evenly.

And here are a couple of additional tips. Stuff the breast of veal loosely or the stuffing may expand too much and ooze out into the casserole. And keep the meat covered from start to finish so that it remains deliciously moist.

Our stuffing recipe makes more than you can possibly fit inside the breast of veal. Simply reheat the balance as we suggest at the end of the recipe. You can do this while the meat is being carved, then bring the extra stuffing to the table to accommodate those who'd like seconds.

STUFFED BREAST OF VEAL WITH THYME AND ROSEMARY

1 to 1 1/2 cups Mushroom-Pecan-Bulgur Stuffing

3 to 4 pounds breast of veal, trimmed of fat and pocket cut for stuffing

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon molasses

1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon crumbled dry rosemary

1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon crumbled dry thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Spoon stuffing lightly into veal pocket and close with wood picks. Set aside.

Microwave butter with garlic in wax-paper covered, microwave-safe 2 1/2- or 3-quart casserole, at least 10 inches across, on HIGH 35 to 45 seconds until melted.

Place veal, stuffed side down, in butter, cover with casserole lid and microwave on HIGH 10 minutes. Reduce power to MEDIUM-HIGH and microwave 15 minutes.

Turn veal over, brush with molasses, place herbs on top and dust with pepper. Re-cover, rotate casserole 180 degrees and microwave veal on MEDIUM-HIGH 25 to 30 minutes until fork-tender.

Transfer veal to heated platter, sprinkle with salt, cover with foil and let stand 5 minutes. Skim fat from drippings.

To serve, carve between ribs and spoon some drippings over each portion. Makes 4 servings.

Mushroom-Pecan-Bulgur Stuffing

1 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup bulgur

1 3/4 cups chicken or beef broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Microwave mushrooms in butter in paper-towel covered, microwave-safe 2 1/2-quart casserole on HIGH 2 minutes.

Add bulgur and broth, cover with casserole lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on HIGH 4 to 6 minutes until small bubbles appear at edge of casserole.

Stir lightly, re-cover and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 9 to 10 minutes without stirring until almost all liquid is absorbed. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Mix in salt and pepper and fluff with fork. Stir in pecans. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Note: To reheat cooled (but not chilled) stuffing, fluff with fork, cover with casserole lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 3 minutes, stirring once at half time. In ovens of less than 600 watts, increase cooking times about 15%.

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