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VEAL BIRDIES TIDEWATER- STYLE, WITH SMITHFIELD HAM, BACKFIN CRAB, AND LEMON-CAPER SAUCE

How to Cook Meat by Chris Schlesinger, John Willoughby

     This is a wonderful dish that looks (and tastes) very fancy but is not really that hard to make. If you've got some guests coming over who you suspect think you're not that great a cook, serve this and you'll have them in awe. (If you're wondering about the name of this dish, birdie is a term for a stuffed and rolled veal scallopine. If you want to get fancy, they are also known as roulades or paupiettes.)
     To make this, we take scallopini from the leg of the veal, pound it thin, and wrap up some crab and Smithfield ham inside it, then saute it in butter and finish up with a lemon-caper sauce. Anyone from the South might recognize this as a Norfolk-style dish, since backfin crab and Smithfield ham are a very common combination in that neck of the woods. This dish also owes somewhat of a debt to Veal Oscar, a classic in which veal cutlets are topped with crab and Hollandaise sauce.
     Serve this with Hash Browns, sauteed spinach, and a green salad with blue cheese dressing.

Serves 4

 

INGREDIENTS

• 1/2 pound backfin crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
• 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh chervil (or substitute parsley)
• Eight 4-ounce slices veal leg
• Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
• 8 very thin slices Smithfield ham (or substitute prosciutto)
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed well
• 1/2 lemon
• 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
 

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, combine the crabmeat and chervil and toss gently.
Cover and refrigerate.

3. Dry the veal with paper towels, then place each slice between two pieces of waxed paper and, using a meat mallet or other blunt instrument like a small saute pan, pound to about a 1/4-inch thickness.
   Sprinkle the veal slices generously with salt and pepper, then lay 1 slice of ham on top of each slice. Top each piece of ham with one eighth of the crab mixture.
   Roll up each veal slice into a fat tube and secure with one or more toothpicks. If you have time, place the birdies in the refrigerator for 20 minutes; this will help keep them sealed as they cook.

4. In a large saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the veal, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, and cook until browned on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side; transfer the birdies to an ovenproof platter as they are done. When all the birdies are browned, turn off the oven and place the platter in the oven while you prepare the sauce.

5. Add the capers to the pan and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Drain off the darkened butter, leaving the capers in the pan. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pan. When the butter has melted, squeeze the lemon juice over the capers. Add the parsley and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, pour the sauce over the platter of veal birds, and serve right away.
 

 

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