An Example of Flavor Building

Let's look more closely at the recipe for blanquette of veal mentioned above.Veal, by itself, does not have a strong or pronounced flavor. Unlike meats such as beef or venison, veal has a mild, subtle flavor. In this recipe, the veal is simmered, so the flavor is even milder than it would be if the meat were browned by roasting, sautéing, or braising. For this reason, when choosing seasonings and other supporting flavors, we want to avoid strong flavors that will mask the delicate flavor of the veal. Using white veal stock as a cooking medium reinforces and strengthens the primary flavor.We could use water, but the result would be a less flavorful dish. Brown stock would be too strong for our purpose and would completely change the character of the dish.White chicken stock might be an acceptable substitute, but it wouldn't reinforce the veal flavor as well.The onion and bouquet garni are added to the stock to give it more depth and fullness of flavor.

Continuing to the finishing ingredients, we find roux, a cream-and-egg liaison, lemon juice, nutmeg, and white pepper.The roux functions as a thickener and contributes primarily to texture, although the butter in the roux also gives some richness to the flavor.The liaison is used for both texture and flavor, adding richness and creami-ness.The cream and the simmered veal are a classic marriage of flavors that work well together in many dishes. However, too much richness, combined with the mildness of the veal, can make a dish cloying.The acidity of the lemon juice cuts through the richness of the cream and egg yolks, gives a more balanced flavor, and perks up the taste buds. Just enough lemon is used to balance the richness of the cream and egg, not so much as to make the dish taste lemony. Finally, the smallest amount of nutmeg and white pepper gives a pleasing complexity to the finished taste without adding identifiable flavors. If one of the first things you taste is nutmeg, then too much nutmeg has been used.

If the dish is well composed, all of these flavors, primary and supporting, combine to form a complex but unified whole that we identify as the taste of veal blanquette.

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