Tête de Veau

April 2017 was my first trip to Europe. Paris. In preparation, many hours were spent researching the most exclusive places to eat. At the time, I didn’t understand the importance of securing reservations, so in no way did I comprehend how lucky we were to get a lunch time seat at a much-talked about restaurant near Pere Lachaise. Having been in Paris for four days, I was completely fluent in French food vocabulary and when asked if I needed an English menu I responded with a quick “no thanks.” Sometimes my newly attained fluency meant I had to make jumps and assumptions when “reading” words. Let’s take tête de veau for example. I know tête is head and veau is veal. Veal head. Ok – that’s just like head cheese right, a pate like slice of meat? I can do head cheese and eat strange things. Of course I order it like the boss that I am. (Go ahead and google it now).

My first few tastes are fine. A little crunchy, a little salty. Then I see the bone in the middle. Gag. And the gelatinous membrane around the edges. Vomit. And the worst thing is that they won’t take the plate until Jon is done eating. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. 

I now do a secret happy dance when I see the English menu.

I felt a familiar trepidation when Jon arrived home yesterday morning with my requested veal shanks. I have been wanting to get a bit more adventurous with my protein choices and take advantage of the nearby butcher. <Gail look away>


Last week, I got some out of season fava beans at the nearby market that I needed to use. (FYI Don’t get out of season fava beans). Let’s be real, I have been fascinated with fava beans since I learned about favism.

My ever-handy NYTimes cooking app had a recipe “Veal Shanks with Fava Bean Puree.”

It is a two-part recipe. The first is the long braise of the veal shank. Simple really. A quick browning of the veal followed by a two hour braise. The only problem for me is that my gas stove just doesn’t do a simmer well. So I was adding back in a lot of stock.

The second part of the recipe is the mash. I found out that when you buy three pounds of out-of-season fava beans you wind up with about two tablespoons of shelled beans.


It took us half an hour to prep these beans. Turns out one should parboil the beans in order to ease the removal of the skin….

Final dish turned out pretty good. I will definitely try out veal shanks again. I think fava beans are best served to accompany fish or on mashed toast with mint.

Tomorrow we attack cuisses de pintade.




  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 veal shanks, about 12 ounces each
  • 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • 5 medium-size carrots, peeled and cut across into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  • 3 cups shelled fava beans
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
  1. To make the veal, heat the olive oil in a large, deep, heavy-bottom skillet. Add the veal shanks and cook until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the shanks from the skillet and set aside. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, about 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet.
  2. Return the shanks to the pan and pour in the broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer slowly for 1 hour. Add the carrots. Continue cooking until the meat is very tender, about 1 hour more. Remove the shanks from the skillet. Increase the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley, salt and pepper and return the shanks to the skillet. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the puree, place the fava beans in a medium-size saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Place the beans in a food processor. Add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, the cream and the olive oil. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place 1 shank on each of 4 plates and spoon the sauce over. Divide the puree among the plates and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.




Leave a Reply