Roasted Veal Breast with Green Olives and Thyme

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 85 minutes
Servings: 4 to 5

Veal breast on the bone is a favorite cut in French and Italian households because it is tasty and economical and cooks in a relatively short time. When the cut is roasted, the meat is juicy and the bone side becomes crisp. You can stir other seasonal ingredients into the pan sauce at the end of cooking. Dried fruits, such as cherries, prunes or apricots, are especially delicious.


  • 1 bone-in veal breast, about 4 1/2 lb. (2.25 kg), chine bone
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup (5 fl. oz./160 ml) white wine
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 2 cups (10 oz./315 g) mild green olives, such as Picholine or
      Lucques, pitted and quartered
  • Small handful of coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf
      parsley, dill, chives or basil


Let the veal stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours. Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 500°F (260°C).

Pat the veal thoroughly dry. Brush all over with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the thyme and season generously with salt and pepper. Mound the onion slices in a roasting pan and place the veal, bone side down, on top.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the veal over and roast for 10 minutes more. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C), turn the veal so it is bone side down again, and add 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) of the wine and the vinegar to the pan. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil, crimping all around the edges. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest and meatiest part of the veal, away from the bone, registers 155°F (68°C), about 50 minutes. Transfer the veal to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, tip the roasting pan and spoon off some of the fat, if desired. Add the remaining 1/3 cup wine and the water to the pan and place over medium-high heat. Simmer briskly for about 5 minutes to concentrate the pan juices. Stir in the olives and herbs and remove from the heat.

Working on the top side, carve the meat from the bones into thick slices on the diagonal. Cut the bones apart. Arrange the meat and bones on plates. Top with the olives and pan juices and serve immediately. Serves 4 or 5.

A note from the butcher: Try wrapping the veal breast in lardo, cured pork fat sold at Italian markets and specialty-food stores. This is a way to keep any cut from getting too dry while cooking, and it lends the meat a delicate flavor. If you can’t find lardo, you can use bacon as a tasty wrapper.

— William Evans, Clancey’s Meats  & Fish, Minneapolis, MN

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

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