Veal is a delicate and flavorful meat that can be a real treat when cooked properly.
But have you ever bitten into a piece of veal only to find it tough and chewy? It can be disappointing, especially if you’ve paid a premium price for this high-end meat.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why veal can sometimes be chewy and offer tips on how to cook it to perfection.
Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice cook, read on to learn how to make the most of this delicious meat.
Is Veal Supposed To Be Chewy?
Veal is not supposed to be chewy. In fact, it should be tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. So why does it sometimes end up tough and difficult to chew?
One reason could be overcooking. Veal is a delicate meat that requires careful attention when cooking. If it’s cooked for too long or at too high of a temperature, it can become tough and chewy.
Another factor could be the cut of meat. Some cuts of veal are naturally tougher than others, so it’s important to choose the right cut for your recipe. For example, veal shanks are great for slow-cooking dishes like osso buco, while veal chops are best cooked quickly over high heat.
Finally, the way you prepare and cook your veal can also impact its texture. Searing the meat in a hot pan before finishing it in the oven can help lock in moisture and create a tender, juicy result.
Why Veal Can Be Chewy
Veal can become chewy for a few reasons. One of the main culprits is overcooking. Veal is a delicate meat that requires careful attention while cooking. If it’s cooked for too long or at too high of a temperature, it can become tough and chewy.
Another reason for chewy veal is the cut of meat used. Some cuts of veal are naturally tougher than others, so it’s important to choose the right cut for your recipe. For example, veal shanks are great for slow-cooking dishes like osso buco, while veal chops are best cooked quickly over high heat.
The protein-to-fat ratio can also play a role in the texture of veal. Because veal has less fat than beef, it’s important to be careful while cooking it. The small quantity of fat on veal chops renders quickly, toughening and drying up the flesh.
Finally, the way you prepare and cook your veal can also impact its texture. Searing the meat in a hot pan before finishing it in the oven can help lock in moisture and create a tender, juicy result. Additionally, using a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C) but not much higher can also help prevent overcooking and toughening of the meat.
Choosing The Right Cut Of Veal
Choosing the right cut of veal is crucial to achieving a tender and flavorful dish. Here are some popular cuts of veal and their recommended cooking methods:
1. Veal chops: These bone-in cuts from the loin or rib are versatile and can be cooked quickly over high heat, such as grilling or pan-frying. They have enough fat to stay juicy, making them an excellent choice for beginners. It’s important to keep them on the medium-rare side to prevent them from drying out.
2. Veal shanks: These cuts are perfect for slow-cooking dishes like osso buco. They have a lot of connective tissue that breaks down during long cooking times, resulting in a tender and flavorful dish.
3. Veal shoulder: This cut is great for roasting or braising. It has more fat and connective tissue than other cuts, which means it needs to be cooked low and slow to break down those tough fibers.
4. Ground veal: Ground veal is lean and tender, but it’s best combined with another, fattier cut of meat like beef or pork. It’s perfect for burgers, meatloaf, or bolognese.
When selecting your veal, look for meat that is pinkish-red in color with a firm texture. Avoid meat that is brownish or has a slimy texture. Also, consider the age of the animal – younger veal will be more tender than older veal.
Preparing Veal For Cooking
Before cooking veal, it’s important to properly prepare it. Start by choosing the right cut of meat for your recipe. Tender cuts like veal steak, veal chops, and veal tenderloin can be cooked with dry heat, while cuts with more connective tissue like veal stew meat, veal short ribs, and veal osso buco are best cooked with moist heat.
When handling your veal, make sure to handle it gently and avoid overworking it. Overworking the meat can cause the proteins to break down and result in a tough texture.
To enhance the flavor and texture of your veal, consider marinating it before cooking. A simple marinade of olive oil, garlic, and herbs can add depth of flavor and help tenderize the meat.
When cooking your veal, be sure to use a meat thermometer to ensure that it’s cooked to the appropriate temperature. The USDA recommends cooking whole muscle veal cuts like veal steaks, roasts, and chops to 145 degrees F (medium rare), 160 degrees F (medium), or 170 degrees F (well done). It’s important not to overcook your veal, as this can cause it to become tough and chewy.
Finally, don’t forget to let your cooked veal rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and helps ensure a tender and juicy result.
Cooking Techniques For Tender Veal
If you want to ensure that your veal is tender and juicy, there are a few cooking techniques you can use. Here are some tips for cooking tender veal:
1. Moist Heat Cooking: Veal cuts with more connective tissue, such as stew meat, short ribs, and osso buco, can benefit from moist cooking methods like simmering or braising. This slow-cooking process helps break down the tough connective tissue, resulting in tender and flavorful meat.
2. Dry Heat Cooking: Tender cuts like veal steak, chops, and tenderloin can be cooked with dry heat methods such as grilling, broiling, or pan-searing. These methods cook the meat quickly and help to retain its natural juices.
3. Proper Temperature: To ensure tender veal, it’s important to cook it to the right temperature. The USDA recommends cooking whole muscle veal cuts like steaks, roasts, and chops to 145 degrees F (medium rare), 160 degrees F (medium), or 170 degrees F (well done). However, if you prefer your meat on the rarer side, aim for 145 degrees F.
4. Fat Content: Veal is a lean meat that needs a little fat to keep it juicy. Don’t trim any fat that’s on the meat before cooking. You can also add some bacon or duck fat to help keep the meat moist during cooking.
5. Braising: If you know how to braise, you know how to cook veal shanks. Brown this bone-in cut from the animal’s lower leg on the stovetop to achieve deep caramelization. Then, cook it in a low oven with liquid for hours to render the meat fork-tender. This method of cooking is conducive to building big flavors, so don’t be shy with the heady herbs (like rosemary and sage), spices, garlic, wine, and tomatoes.
By following these cooking techniques, you can ensure that your veal is tender and delicious every time you prepare it.
Resting And Serving Veal Properly
Resting and serving your veal properly is just as important as cooking it correctly. After your veal is cooked to perfection, it’s important to let it rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful final product.
To rest your veal, simply take it out of the oven or off the heat source and let it sit on a cutting board or plate for 5-10 minutes. This will also give you time to prepare any sides or sauces that will accompany your dish.
When it’s time to slice your veal, be sure to use a sharp knife and slice against the grain. This will help break down any remaining fibers and make the meat even more tender. Serve your veal with any desired sides or sauces, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions About Veal
If you’re curious about veal, here are some frequently asked questions and answers: