This is the kind of old-fashioned dish that most people would not think of making today. But when faced with 99-cent-a-pound veal breast with a pocket for stuffing at ShopRite near winter’s end, my righteous desire for natural and humanely raised meat flew out the window.
What would be the chances of finding this at WholeFoods, or even on a local farm, I wondered, or at a price that didn’t break the bank? Anyway, I freely confess that I caved in and snapped it up.
I made a simple bread stuffing with celery and onion. I cut the pocket even bigger and stuffed it, then tied it up with string. I slathered the meat with olive oil and plenty of sage and thyme (and salt and pepper of course), and roasted it for a little over 3 hours, at about 350°. (I didn’t use a rack, figuring the natural curve of the bone would hold the meat slightly above the bottom of the pan, helping it cook from all sides.) About every half hour, I poured a little wine in the roasting pan. Usually I would use white wine, but I had leftover dry rosé to use up, and that did nicely.
You see the result here. The fatty top layer is crackling crisp. The meat is almost falling off the bone tender. There are still fatty pockets that you have to excise as you eat it, but the connective silvery tissue (like an underskin, sort of), has become meltingly tender. There were plenty of pan juices once I poured off most of the fat that had rendered. This was maybe the best dish I’ve cooked all winter. What can I say, this is one of my absolute favorite dishes, but I only manage to make it maybe every couple of years, when it’s suddenly right under my nose in the meat case at a market that caters to an older clientele.