June 14, 2010

veal Sure, we often take on weighty topics here at Goodboys Nation weblog, but this isn’t one of them.

If there is one comfort food for The Great White Shank, it has to be the veal cutlet. Sure, there are lots of ways to prepare veal, but breaded and fried, then topped with a marinara sauce is the key to gastronomic happiness as far as I’m concerned. You see, veal cutlets have a special place in my heart, for, besides tasting good, they also hold fond memories of family dinners many years ago – memories of sights and smells I feel privileged to have experienced.

Whenever we saw veal cutlets in the refigerator, all fresh and pink with the promise of breading and frying, that meant not only a great meal somewhere in the near future, but one that featured by my uncle and godfather, Milt. For Milt coming for dinner and veal cutlets were always inextricably linked. I can still remember us all gathered around the expanded supper table with the added leaf: my mom and dad, me and my two brothers, my grandfather, and Milt. In the middle, a large platter of veal cutlets all fried and brown and dark and crispy around the edges, a large bowl of french fries, and a bowl of Kraft Spaghetti Dinner tomato sauce to slather on top.

Was it the most healthy of meals? Hardly. But these were special occasions to look forward to and cherish. In time, my grandfather, and then Milt, passed away. The house got sold, and we all went off in our different lives and ways. But the memories of those dinners have stayed with me over the years, and are something I recall whenever I come back home to New England and order up for myself a veal cutlet sub sandwich from any one of several pizza/sub joints there are around the area.

I don’t think you’ll find veal cutlet subs outside of New England. They weren’t in Louisville when we lived there, and they sure aren’t around Phoenix, but then again, neither is your New England-style sub shop either. That kind of place remains unique to New England, and something to look forward to whenever I’m planning a return visit home.

Sure, some people might have a problem with the very idea of where veal originates from – you can’t separate meat from the provider of it – but if prepared well and graced with an appreciation of God’s creation, I don’t have a problem with it. I still remember one time when I was doing a retreat at Holy Cross Monastery a number of years ago, and being fed a wonderful veal and peppers lunch with pasta. Just prior to saying grace, one of the monks was heard to say, “great, now we’re celebrating the torture of cattle”, but it was absolutely delicious.

Pagliuca’s in Boston’s North End serves a wonderful veal scallopine, very tender, you can tell they pound their own veal.

I’ve also had German-style veal cutlets with brown gravy years ago at the Green Barn Restaurant in Salem, NH. With a nicely-chilled Riesling, that’s a pretty enjoable dining experience as well.

Every now and then, I’ll find some scallopine at the local Fry’s and bread it up and fry it with some Barilla Thin Spaghetti, then serve it under some Kraft Spaghetti Dinner sauce for old time’s sake. Not often, but often enough so that it’s a special occasion. And when I do, I always make it a point after saying grace to remember my family and raise a glass of Bolla Chianti in a fond toast to my godfather Milt.

If it’s true that the dinner table is the vehicle by which families and friends are drawn together over time and in space, then the veal cutlet, at least for The Great White Shank, will always have a special place in my thoughts and memories.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:47 | Comments Off on In Praise Of The Veal Cutlet
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