aising veal is an ancient tradition, dating back to at least 2500 BC, where it is documented as a popular luxury dish of the Sumerians. Veal is mentioned in the Bible, is found in Ancient Rome, and in the earliest European cookbooks, including a reference in an English cookbook dating to 1378.
The French writer and philosopher Voltaire had a cook who used veal stock instead of fatty sauces, which made his dinner table a popular one. The Italians take credit for introducing veal to France when Italian-born Catherine de Medici became queen of France in 1533. But historians have identified French recipes for veal in the late 1300s, well before Queen Catherine took the throne. Many famous dishes are built on the veal cutlet, like wiener schnitzel from Vienna, and cotoletta from Milan. While debates rage about who introduced which recipe to whom, we are content to simply enjoy the many international recipes for this delectable meat.
What is Veal?
Since the earliest days of domesticated cattle, farmers have sought to control their herd, influence the genetics by selective breeding, and manage the balance of gender in the herd. Veal is just another example of how that process evolved. Veal calves are the male cattle that a dairy farmer finds unnecessary in a herd of milk cows (they don’t lactate and are all needed for breeding). Raised to a young age, veal calves provide a tender and mild meat, the younger version of beef. Pale pink in color, veal meat comes from a calf (technically either sex that has not reached puberty) usually 4 to six months old that weighs around 450 pounds. “Bob” veal is from a veal calf under 3 weeks old and around 150 pounds Milk-fed, or special-fed, veal describes the majority of veal calves, which are fed milk a vitamin-rich formula in a controlled diet.
Humanely Raised for a Reason
Like everything else at D’Artagnan, our veal is raised humanely to produce the best flavor. We work with a cooperative of small farms in upstate New York who raise Holstein calves on milk formula alone. The calves are never individually caged or penned. Instead, they are raised in group housing, in open spaces, free to socialize with other calves in a sunlit, comfortable environment. There are never more than 40 calves in barn, creating a stress-free environment. These unique veal barns have been lauded by Dr. Temple Grandin, an expert on humane animal husbandry. The barns are temperature controlled, with ample air circulation and plenty of space for free movement.
The calves feed consists only of a high-quality milk protein product and pure well water, to which the calves are allowed 24-hour access, via a highly technical nipple feeding system. They are never administered any GMO products, antibiotics or growth hormones. Our veal farmers achieve a careful balance between tradition and technology, weighing the calves to determine their nutritional needs and monitoring them carefully to ensure quality.
There’s a world of flavor to be discovered with tender veal cuts: try our veal chops, veal tenderloin, veal ribs, veal sweetbreads or veal osso buco…but take care not to overcook veal meat, as it is quite lean.