Blanquette de veau (veal stew) is what I call the mother of all French dishes. It’s the ultimate French home cooked meal, so traditional, bourgeois yet simple. Ever so often, when I go to the butcher, I have a natural inclination to say, ‘Michel, prepare me some veal for a little blanquette de veau please’. I like to have the necessary ingredients available at all times, because blanquette de veau is like family.
Too seldom on restaurant menus, this comforting stew with a creamy sauce is a grand classic. It holds a special place in my kitchen. There is no doubt that one of the secret ingredients to a good meal is a Proustian liaison. During the holidays, my grandmother would make this dish on Sunday nights, so soothing and heartwarming. The evenings would end with a card game called ‘Jeu des sept familles‘ along with a cup of camomile tea.
Blanquette is a stew consisting of light meat or seafood in a white sauce. Served with rice, tagliatelle or steamed potatoes, the sauce covers everything like the coziest blanket. The powerful cloves, just the four of them, play such an important role. They perfume the blanquette de veau and turn it into an unforgettable tasting stew. I once read that clove, originally cultivated in Indonesia, brings luck into the family home. No wonder this stew is one of our family’s favourite.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
1 kg/ 2 & 1/2 pounds veal shoulder (cut into 5 cm/ 2 inch cubes)
2 carrots (sliced into chunky sticks)
2 leeks (sliced, white part only)
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves (sliced)
2 small shallots (sliced – keep one half full)
1 celery stalk (sliced)
250 g/ 1/2 pound white mushrooms
150 g/ 1/3 pound pearl onions (peeled)
4 tbsp white wine (optional)
30 g/ 2 tbsp butter (or olive oil, for frying the mushrooms)
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
For the bouquet garni:
A bunch of thyme
One bay leaf
A few sprigs of parsley
For the sauce:
A few squeezes of fresh lemon juice (half a lemon will do)
160 ml/ 2/3 cup crème fraîche
40 g/ 1/3 cup plain flour
60 g/ 1/4 cup butter
2 egg yolks
Chop the carrots into chunky sticks, coarsely slice the onion, shallots, leeks, celery and garlic. Keep half a shallot and stick the cloves in. Make a simple bouquet garni with a few springs of thyme, parsley and bay leaf (tie with some twine or wrap/ tie in cheesecloth).
Blanch the veal in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes. Skim scum from surface. Add the onion, shallots, garlic, bouquet garni and all the other vegetables (as well as the half shallot with cloves). Add the wine. Bring to a soft boil for 2 minutes. Season with salt. Cover and cook on a low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Remove all the meat, bouquet garni, vegetables and set aside. Cover to keep them warm.
Prepare a roux sauce. Melt butter in a small pan, add flour and stir continuously for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens. Pour the roux sauce into the blanquette pot. Mix well with a whisk and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat, until the stew sauce starts to slightly thicken. Return the meat and vegetables to the pot. Cover and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat.
Slice mushrooms coarsely, peel the pearl onions, and fry together in 2 tbsp butter. Drizzle with lemon and let the juices reduce for 30 seconds. Add to the blanquette.
In a bowl, mix crème fraîche, a squeeze of lemon juice and whisk in the egg yolks. Add a ladle or two of the blanquette’s sauce, stir well and pour into the blanquette de veau. Do not boil or the egg and cream will curdle. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve immediately with rice.
53 thoughts on “Blanquette de veau”
Just the antidote for a very cold week in upstate New York! I feel warmer just reading this…thanks.
How much water do you use?
Bonjour Bob! Regarding your question, I use just enough water to cover the meat. Have a lovely week-end, Mimi
This sounds heavenly! Great for winter. Is it cold in Médoc right now?
Hi Joy, Yes this is a very cozy and comforting meal for this cold months! Médoc is mildly cold, but very humid due to the heavy rain these days. Can’t wait for spring! Have a lovely week-end, Mimix
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful family dish in such a beautiful way.
Such beautiful photos. they make me want to visit
Your pics are just so evocative and escapist. Every time I visit your blog it’s like I am in a new dimension! Lovely blog.
Bonjour Mimi, always a great pleasure reading your blog while having my Oolong tea. Beautiful post and photos. I love your recipe a great choice to add to my menu for my next weeks seated dinner. Have a wonderful weekend xo
Merci Rowaida! Thank you for kind words – it is always a pleasure to hear from you! Enjoy the recipe – bon week-end! Mimix
I just found your blog…what a beauty! I want to cook everything 😀 Hello from switzerland!
It looks heavenly. I love the last photo, looks like a very looooooong horse 🙂
humm ! j’en ai fait une variante au déjeuner, merci pour cette belle idée !
Your photographs are so eloquent! They bring to mind a documentary called “After Winter, Spring” by Judith Lit, an American living in a village in SW France. Ms Lit filmed her farming neighbors in testimony to their courage and love for their land. A stunning film made over the course of 5 years.
I made this last night. After 12 years of cooking delicious meals for my husband, he declared it the best meal I ever made! Thank-you for your enchanting blog & lovely recipes.
Bonjour Jess! Well that is just about the best compliment ever! I am so happy to hear you and your husband enjoyed the blanquette de veau – thank you! Warm regards from Médoc, Mimix
Brilliant. I was at the market this morning and feeling a little uninspired and then it started to rain and I remembered this post … Bought my veal and veggies, looking forward to a cozy Sunday meal. I love blanquette and totally agree it’s rarely available on menus. Beautiful photos too, bonjour from Lyon.
Hello, thank you for this fabulous recipe. Just a question – when you say “Pour the roux sauce into the blanquette pot”, is the cooking water to remain in the blanquette pot? I’m sorry if I have missed something, just want to get things clear before I attempt!
Thank you x
Bonjour Chantal! Happy Easter! To clarify your question, the cooking ‘water’ remains in the pot (the meat & vegetables having been set aside). Pour the roux sauce into the cooking water and whisk well so it’s properly mixed in. Hope this helps! Mimix
Mimi – this is so gorgeous…you have inspired me to start cooking local and with seasonal ingredients. So excited to try some of your recipes!
Hi Mimi! I´m dying to make this stew but I´m worried I won’t find a nice piece of veal here in Berlin (good meat is extremely hard to come by)…is there anything I can replace the veal with?
Have a wonderful week!
Best from Berlin
Bonjour Kristin! Thanks for dropping by! Veal would be the best choice, but I think you could substitute veal for chicken or turkey filets – make sure not to overcook the meat. I would recommend poaching the chicken (or turkey) in the blanquette sauce for 10-15 minutes (until the meat is cooked). For the sauce or vegetables, you can cut down the cooking time to 30 minutes (3 hours is because of the veal) Have a lovely day, Mimix
This is one of my favorite blogs to read. I love living vicariously through your photos and beautiful prose. I am an expat living in Hong Kong and your images of a peaceful and idyllic country life are so soothing and comforting. Like the question in the comment above, how might one adjust to use chicken instead of veal? Is that a common swap?
Bonjour Jessica! Would love to be in Hong Kong today – I miss the sights & sounds, especially a good dum sum lunch! Thanks so much for visiting Manger – my new life in Médoc is certainly a peaceful one. Regarding your question, veal really is the good choice (they usually have good selection at Oliver’s or City’super). If you prefer to use chicken, or even turkey filets, that would be fine, but make sure not to overcook the meat. I would recommend poaching the chicken (or turkey) in the blanquette sauce for 10-15 minutes (until the meat is cooked). Bonne soirée, Mimix
your’re a really artist -in making extraordinary pictures and in cooking. And in the presentation of your meal – it is unbelievable pretty to see the “arrangement”.
Thank you so much for your kind words! I owe all the beautiful photography to my husband – he’s got the eye. We make a good team – I cook, he shoots it all. Have a lovely day! Mimix
Mimi, I cooked your stir fried chicken with cashew for dinner tonight. It’s delicious! My husband, who is Chinese American but was born and spent his childhood in Hong Kong, loves it. I bought all the ingredients and will make your carrot cake tomorrow 🙂 Can’t wait to try it. Thank you for these wonderful recipes.
Hi Irina, So happy to hear you enjoyed the meal! I like to alternate my menus and enjoy a tasty Asian home-cooked meal anytime. I will be posting a few recipes this afternoon you might enjoy (on the Asian theme). Enjoy the carrot cake. Have you tried the chocolate tart? I made it again yesterday – even had it for breakfast. A good way to start a Monday:) Bonne journée! Mimix
Hi Mimi, I love cooking Asian food too and as it is my family’s 12th year in Hong Kong I love it more and more. I even make my own moon cakes now. My friends think it’s really cool for a Gweilo 😉 I haven’t tried the chocolate cake yet, but I will for sure, my husband and son LOVE chocolate cakes. Have a wonderful day!
Sublime, can hardly wait for the weekend to do it!!
Your blog is so beautiful. The photos are stunning and the recipes make me want to cook! I’ve made your garlic mashed potatoes a couple of times – they are to die for!!
I live in Paris and we recently got a baguette that looks like the one in this post’s photo. Do you know if there a story behind it?
I am making this for the second time. It was the first time I enjoyed veal and this recipe is now a family favorite. Thank you!
Bonsoir Heather! What a lovely message! Thank you – I am so happy to hear your family enjoyed this meal. We are all in need of good comfort food these days! Mimix
Beautiful blog! Truly a vision of a serene lifestyle. I’m looking forward to making this veal dish, hope I can find creme fraiche .
Thank you Stella! I hope you will enjoy the blanquette de veau dish – you could replace crème fraîche with sour cream. Have a lovely day! Mimix
Hi Mimi – I’ve cooked it today to an old friend – his comment was “it is as good as my grand motheŕs” – thanks Mimi !! And I’ve done your Gateau au chocolat et marron for desert… Great recipe. Could you give us Menu ideas with your recipes ??
Bonjour Mimi – I have just discovered your blog and plan to become a frequent visitor. Your photos are beautiful and your style of writing is simply lovely for the reader. I am planning to make the Blanquette tomorrow and I have a quick question. My husband always prefers the look of browned white meats when they’re white sauce and I wondered if you thought lightly browning the veal before cooking would change the outcome of the recipe and/or should I then modify the cooking time. Thank you and best regards from another Mimi
Merci Mimi, the recipe was a real success at our Saturday night diner with friends. They loved it and for me it was going back to my parents table as it was one of my favorite dish. Your recipe is just perfect. Again an other great time spent with friends with your delicious recipes… Thank you soo much… can’t wait for your cookbook now. Enjoy spring in France! xxx
Mimi!!!! I cannot believe I have only now found your blog! Living in NYC with my bilingual French son Jack, I have shared your blog with the generations of fantastic family chefs in France and they are blown away. I am making blanquette de veau tomorrow for my son’s Parisian father who is simply an outstanding cook. He is in the spice trade and gearing up for the holiday markets. He will be thrilled with the cozy family lunch. Merci beaucoup!!!!! The photos are stunning as well as you, your family and surroundings. Life envy for sure!
So unbelievably delicious. The lengths I went to to obtain a piece of veal shoulder instead of paying incredible amounts of money for more expensive cuts of meat! And did it pay off… so tender and juicy. A truly French umami.
I will say that I had to work the roux a little differently- but I didn’t measure out the butter or account for differences in butter fat content. I cooked the butter and flour, then I added olive oil to break it down a little because it was very thick, then ladled small amounts of broth into it and whisked it until it was quite liquidy.
Finally, I followed your garlic soup recipe and whisked the egg whites into the broth, just to avoid wasting them. I served the stew with a wild rice mix cooked in beef broth. If only I had had time to make madeleines as well.
Sounds like you’ve been cooking delicious meals! I am so happy to hear you are enjoying the recipes. Thank you. Happy new year! Mimi x
Bonjour Mimi! I made your recipe for lunch today. I won’t ever make blanquette de veau any other way! It tasted delicious and much better than the other way I made it (using a recipe from Françoise Bernard). Merci beaucoup! ps-i live in Pau , not too far from you-love the pics you put here.
Thank you so much – you know, this is one of my absolute favorite dishes – so I am thrilled you like it too! Merci! Mimi x
Mimi, I’m have a dinner party on Sunday, and I would like to make this dish the day before. Will this dish sit well, or is it really better to make and serve immediately.
I can’t wait to try this recipe!
Hi Emma – you can prepare this in advance the same day. Enjoy! Mimi x
Living in the tropics of Australia I haven’t prepared this delight since cooking school days in the 70s. Now visiting Ottawa and the perfect opportunity presented itself – DELICIOUS!!
I’m currently trying to increase my french cuisine recipes after visiting Paris in the Summer and falling in love with everything French. Your recipe is amazing. It is truly delicious and full of flavour. Even my husband loved it, and my husband is not exactly ‘bothered’ by food at all and never has much to say about it. Thank you again, Mimi.
Hi Rachel, I’m delighted to hear it, Blanquette is one of my all time favourites 🙂 Mimi x
I would love to serve this for guests, but I am somewhat at a loss for what to accompany this dish. Do you have suggestions for an appetizer and dessert? Thanks.
I woud suggest something light for starters, like braised leeks for example, then for dessert, a fruit tart would be ideal. Or a crème caramel! Enjoy! Mimi x