Serious Eats: Recipes

French in a Flash: Veal Stew Forestière

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

No one can name a dish like the French. My favorite moments of culinary school were spent sitting, listening to why Creme Dubarry was named after a countess, or which heroic feat inspired what battle-slain chicken. The names of dishes christened regally after landed aristocracy and great victory imbue a sense of grandeur, of pride, even of haughtiness, that accompany such church-mice affairs as cauliflower soup and lowly beef stews.

Forestière is one such name that always reproduces scenes of French legend and lore in my mind as I stand puttering about the stove. Forestière means forestry, or the forester. My stepfather Alain grew up in Normandy, and he always told me high tales of chasing hares through the forest with his dog, getting lost between wooden pillars under a canopy of leaves, and sitting down to a Normandy apple with some bread and Normandy butter on an arched, awaiting root. So whenever I make any dish forestière—a traditional flavoring combination of mushrooms and cream, and most often ham—I am reminded of a beautiful country, hearty, natural, even medieval, where wild boars bristled through the woody stumps and their tame cousins dug for truffles. I find it beautiful, and evocative.

This stew is the embodiment of my fancy: tender chunks of veal, luscious cream, woodsy thyme, earthy mushrooms, and the salty crunch of crisped ham (no doubt an unfortunate descendant of my medieval boars and truffle pigs). Pour yourself a glass of Normandy Calvados to crown a humble bowl of stew.

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the The Secret Ingredient series for Serious Eats.

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