ESCALOPE VIENNOISE; VEAL QUENELLES, GREEN ASPARAGUS
WHAT IS CALLED escalope viennoise in France is every French child’s favorite. Breaded veal slices originated in Austria as Wiener schnitzel but made it into the French repertoire more than a century ago. We offer this dish in honor of both Marcus Draxler, our legendary past maître d’, and our marvelous photographer Thomas Schauer, who grew up together in the small village of Wilden in Austria.
To lighten things up, I prefer to bread just one side of the meat, and with the veal left from cutting a perfect disc, we make light mousse dumplings, called quenelles. Crispy seared sweetbreads and a sprinkling of hard-boiled eggs complete this classic dish.
Strain the sweetbreads, transfer to a large saucepan, and cover with cold water. Simmer for 5 minutes, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat and rest in the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove the sweetbreads from the water, pat dry, and transfer to a cutting board. Use a paring knife to trim away the fat and outer membranes. Place the sweetbreads in a shallow baking dish lined with paper towels, top with more paper towels, and place another baking dish on top. Fill the second baking dish with heavy objects (such as canned goods) to gently press on the sweetbreads. Refrigerate over-night. Cut the sweetbreads into 12 similarly sized morsels and reserve, chilled.
For the Crispy Sage
Fill one-third of a medium saucepan with canola oil and heat to 300°F. Fry the sage leaves, keeping them submerged for 1 minute, or until the bubbles subside. Strain onto a paper towel–lined plate and cool at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.
For the Veal Escalopes
Lay the veal slices on a cutting board in a single layer and cover with plastic wrap. With a flat meat mallet, pound the veal to reach ⅛-inch thickness and trim into a circle with a paring knife by tracing a 6-inch-diameter template. Reserve the trim for the mousse. Reserve the meat, chilled.
Up to 1 hour before serving, season the escalopes on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs mixed with the sage on separate shallow plates. Dredge one side of the veal escalope with the flour, pat off excess, dip into the egg, then coat with breadcrumbs. Reserve, chilled.
For the Veal Mousse Quenelles
Chill the bowl and blade of a food processor and make sure the meat trimmings, cream, and egg white are cold. Pulse the meat in the food processor with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg until finely chopped. Add the egg white and continue pulsing until pasty. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the machine running, stream in the cream to form a smooth mousse. Pass the mousse through a fine-meshed drum sieve and store, chilled.
For the Asparagus
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water on the side. Cut the tips of the asparagus on a diagonal into 1½-inch lengths. With a mandoline, thinly slice 2 of the tips lengthwise into a small container of ice water and reserve for the garnish. Trim and discard the fibrous ½ inch from the base and slice the rest into ⅛-inch-thick discs. Boil the discs for 30 seconds, or until tender, and chill in the ice water. Boil the tips for 1 minute, or until tender, and chill in the ice water. Strain and pat dry the asparagus and reserve, chilled.
For the Brown Butter Jus
In a small saucepan over medium heat, brown the butter with the capers. Add the vinegar and veal jus and bring to a simmer. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and keep warm.
For the Glazed Morels
To clean the morels, submerge them in a bowl of cold water, leave for 2 minutes, strain from the top, and repeat until the water that settles at the bottom is clear. Strain and pat dry with a towel. Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat and add the shallot. Cook, stirring, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the morels, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vermouth and reduce until almost dry. Add the chicken stock and simmer until the morels are cooked and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 12 minutes. Add the veal jus and toss. Check the seasoning for salt and pepper and keep warm.
Bring the chicken stock to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat. Using a pair of matching spoons, scoop a spoonful of veal mousse and scrape the insides of the spoons together in a rolling motion to compact the mousse into a football-shaped quenelle. Gently drop the quenelle into the stock and repeat to make at least 8 quenelles. Adjust the stock to just below a simmer and poach the quenelles for 3 to 4 minutes, gently stirring and basting them with the stock, until they are firm and cooked through. Turn off the heat and cover; keep warm.
Season the sweetbreads with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear the sweetbreads on all sides until light golden brown, then add 2 tablespoons of the butter, the thyme, and the garlic and baste, turning occasionally, for 4 minutes, or until the sweetbreads are firm to the touch.
Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the escalopes, breaded side down (you will need to do this in batches), and sear until the crust is browned. Flip over, add 1 tablespoon of the butter, and continue cooking for 1 minute, while basting the butter over the meat.
In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and add the asparagus tips and slices. Stir until heated through and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
For each serving, place a veal escalope in the center of a warm dinner plate. Arrange on top 3 sweetbreads, 3 morels, 2 mousse quenelles, 3 asparagus tips, a spoonful of asparagus discs, 2 shaved asparagus tips, and a few leaves of parsley and fried sage. Sprinkle with the egg, capers, and lemon.