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Braised Veal Breast Stuffed with Fontina and Porcini

Veal breast is a popular, low-cost cut in the Italian kitchen. The meat is somewhat fatty, but that is part of its appeal. Here, the cut is stuffed with fontina, a good melting cheese that oozes out when the meat is sliced open. The Madeira-soaked porcini meld with the meat juices to create an earthy sauce for drizzling. Be careful to watch the braising and provide enough liquid so that the meat doesn’t scorch.

Ingredients:

  • About 1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms 
  • 3/4 cup hot water 
  • 2 Tbs. Madeira or medium-dry sherry 
  • 1 boneless center-cut veal breast, about 3 lb. 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 2 oz. Italian fontina cheese, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced  
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme 
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter 
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine 

Directions:

In a heatproof measuring cup, combine the porcini and hot water. Add the Madeira and let stand for 20 minutes. Strain well, reserving the soaking liquid. Squeeze the mushrooms as dry as possible, then chop coarsely. Set aside.

Place the veal breast, fat side down, on a work surface. Season generously with salt and pepper. Lay the cheese slices lengthwise across the center, leaving 1 inch uncovered at each end. Scatter the porcini, garlic and thyme over the cheese. Starting at a long side, roll the meat up tightly into a cylinder. Tie firmly every 2 inches with kitchen string. Tie lengthwise with a long piece of string, to help seal the cheese inside. Pat the meat thoroughly dry and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Place a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot over medium heat, and warm the olive oil with the butter. When the butter foam has subsided, add the veal roll and cook until golden on all sides, about 2 1/2 minutes on each of 3 or 4 sides. Add the wine and 1/4 cup of the reserved mushroom-soaking liquid. Adjust the heat so that the liquid simmers very gently—a few occasional bubbles, not more.

Partially cover the pot and braise for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, turning the roll every 15 to 20 minutes. If you have trouble maintaining the low heat, use a heat diffuser. Turn the roll and check the liquid level occasionally; adjust the heat as needed and add 1 Tbs. mushroom-soaking liquid if needed. The meat is done when it is very tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers about 155°F.

Transfer the veal roll to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Add 2 Tbs. mushroom-soaking liquid to the pot and simmer over medium heat until reduced slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Snip the strings and cut the roll into thick slices. Drizzle with the pan juices and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

A note from the butcher: This cut can be hard to find. It is a long, flat, bony piece of meat that looks like a pork sparerib, only bigger. The true breast is only half the piece, with the other side being the brisket, which is usually boned for stew or ground veal. A boneless piece of veal shoulder, butterflied flat, is a good substitute.
— Don Kuzaro, Jr., Don & Joe’s Meats, Seattle, WA

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Cook and The Butcher, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, Inc., 2011).