Bistro Cooking at Home . . .

Breast of Veal, spinach, mushrooms and . . .

     One of my valued foodie books is entitled Bistro Cooking At Home. It is a collection of methods and recipes by Gordon Hamersley, owner of long time Boston eatery Hamersley’s Bistro. We received the book as a gift some years ago, and for the most part I’ve actually read many of our cookbooks. This one included.

     We always said we were going to visit Hamersley’s Bistro when we might be in Boston and this past summer we were surprised to learn the Bistro had closed in the spring. Gordon Hamersley has gone into specialty teaching, the Bistro he said, had run it’s course in his life.

So we have made one of those great errors in life, of not doing what we should have done before it’s too late.

     So, we’ll have to be satisfied with preparing Hamersley’s recipes, one of which we’ve just added to our collection @  

     We have prepared this dish several times. And there is a suggestion we should be specific about. If you do make it, use the full piece of meat (about $4.50 to $6.00 per pound), and request milk-fed veal. The milk-fed is not so red in color, more pinkish like a lighter pork. You may have to give your butcher a day or two to acquire the cut. We did use chicken broth, and doubled the tomato paste.

     We can tell you in advance, this dish is worthy of a place on the table at any event. Just make sure you have enough forks within close proximity.


VEAL BREAST stuffed with Spinach, Mushrooms and Garlic . . .

     This is a great dish for a dinner party. It looks fancy and tastes fabulous, but it’s not difficult to make. A simple side of buttered penne sprinkled with Asiago cheese, and a salad before or after, are all you need to complete the meal. 


Ingredients . . .

About half a cup of oil

6 whole peeled garlic cloves

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small onion thinly sliced

2 Portobello mushrooms (or about 4 ounces of cremini mushrooms)

   cleaned, stemmed, and cut into half inch pieces

4 medium oyster mushrooms cut into half inch pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

5 ounces spinach well washed and stemmed  (about 5 cups)

One 4 to 4.5 pound piece of boneless veal breast,  excess fat removed

3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard

2 cups dry sherry

2 cups veal stock (or chicken broth)

1 tablespoon tomato paste (we doubled)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Method . . .

     Heat the olive oil and the garlic in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer until the garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. The cloves may brown slightly, but keep the heat low enough that they don’t brown too much. Allow the garlic to cool in the oil and reserve both.

     Heat 3 tablespoons of the reserved garlic oil and the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Raise the heat to high and add the mushrooms. Add a good amount of salt, at least 1/2 teaspoon - and some pepper to taste. Cook the mushrooms, without stirring, until they brown well. Give them a stir and continue to cook, adding additional butter or oil as necessary, until the mushrooms release their juice, the juices evaporate, and the mushrooms become tender. Add the thyme and the reserved garlic cloves and cook another minute or so. Reserve.

     In another pan, heat about 1/2 cup water over medium high heat. Add a 1/2 teaspoon salt and the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted. Drain and run under cold tap water to stop the cooking. Squeeze spinach dry in a fine mesh strainer or clean kitchen towel, then add to the mushroom and garlic, mixing thoroughly so the spinach is evenly distributed. Allow to cool.

     Lay the veal breast on a cutting board, fatty side up. Using a spatula spread the mustard all over the facing side, then spread the mushroom/spinach/garlic mixture, leaving a 1.5 inch area around the edge of the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Working with the grain, roll the veal into a tight roll and tie at one-inch intervals.


HEAT the oven to 300ºF


     In a large heavy based, oven-proof pot large enough to hold the veal, heat about 3 tablespoons of the reserved garlic oil over high heat. Season the outside with salt and pepper, generously, then brown on all sides. Let the pan cool slightly then add the sherry, veal or chicken broth and tomato paste (we used twice the amount called for). Cover the pot and cook the veal in the oven until tender - about 3 1/4 hours. Remove the lid and cook another 15 minute, basting the meat to brown the top a little.

Transfer the veal to a cutting board, cover loosly with tim foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Degrease the cooking liquid, bring to a boil and reduce to half, add butter and whisk until incorporated.


To Serve . . . Remove string, then slice into 1-inch thick servings and spoon sauce over top.

       Add glasses of Merlot or Cabarnet Franc to each place setting . . .