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Veal 101

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Veal 101

The young of the cow up to 1 year in age is considered “veal”. Older than this, the neutered male is called a “steer” and a female that has not yet calved a “heifer”.

Milk-fed veal is almost exclusively fed on milk. Its pale pink flesh, almost white, is very tender and delicate.

Grain-fed veal is fed on milk until the age of 6-8 weeks. It is then fed a grain-based diet until the age of 5-5 ½ months.  Its flesh is more pink in color, with a stronger flavor and is slightly less tender than milk-fed veal.


Roasted, broiled or grilled, pan-fried: tender pieces from the ribs, loin and sirloin. Also semi-tender pieces from the leg, especially if marinated or tenderized with a mallet.

Braised, simmered: the less tender pieces from the neck, shoulder, flank, shank and breast. Being lean, veal flesh dries out and becomes tough easily. It is therefore a good idea to bard it or coat it in fat or oil and cook it at a fairly low temperature (300°-350°), basting it from time to time and avoiding overcooking it. Veal is better when it is still slightly pink.


Veal can be prepared as a pan-fried steak or cutlet, sautéed, roasted, rolled stewed or cooked in white sauce. It is used to make veal Milanese and veal Marengo (with white wine, tomato and garlic). Veal shanks are slow cooked to make the Italian dish Osso Buco. Calves’ liver and sweetbread are sautéed or stewed in many cuisines. Veal works well with the following ingredients: cream, cheese, herbs (thyme, tarragon, rosemary, sage, basil and others), mushrooms, eggplant,  spinach, onion, garlic, tomato, apples, citrus fruits and alcohol (wine, calvados, madeira, cognac, and others).


The nutritional value of veal is linked to the age, diet, and living conditions of the animal.

Veal meat contains less fat and calories, but a little more cholesterol than beef, pork or lamb.

The flesh of grain-fed veal contains more iron than milk-fed veal.



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