serves 6 or more
- For the stuffing:
- 3 cups country bread, 1-inch cubes, day-old or slightly dried, crusts removed
- 3/4 cup of milk
- ½ pound mortadella (or ham), cut in 1-inch chunks (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
- 1 medium-large carrot, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
- 2 stalks celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 big prunes, pitted, chopped in 1/3-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup dry toasted pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Grana Padano
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
- For the veal:
- 3-1/2 to 5 pound veal breast, bone-in
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or crystal kosher salt
- For the roasting pan: vegetables*, seasonings and liquids:
- 5 medium onions, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
- 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
- 4 celery stalks, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 4 plump garlic cloves, peeled
- 8 large pitted prunes, whole
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary sprigs, packed to measure
- 6 whole cloves
- 1/4 cup dried porcini slices, crumbled or chopped in small pieces
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns [none were added to pan in our test!]
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or crystal kosher salt, or more
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups or more Turkey Broth or Simple Vegetable Broth, or water
Making the stuffing:
Put the bread cubes in a small bowl and pour the milk over; toss together and let the bread soak up the milk, tossing the cubes every few minutes so they moisten evenly.
Meanwhile, put the mortadella, onion, carrot and celery pieces in the food processor, fitted with the steel blade and chop them together into fine bits, processing continuously for about 1/2 minute; scrape down the sides of the bowl and process briefly until everything is a paste-like mix.
Pour the olive oil into a 10 or 12-inch skillet and set over medium-high heat; scrape in the chopped stuffing and spread it in the pan. As it starts to sizzle, lower the heat considerably, stir, and sauté gently for 3 or 4 minutes to bring out the flavors—don’t let the stuffing get crusty or colored.
Squeeze the bread cubes firmly by handfuls to get out excess milk and scatter them over the stuffing. Still cooking over low heat, break up the bread clumps with a spoon or spatula and stir to incorporate completely. Mix in the chopped prunes and cook them with the stuffing for a minute or so. Take the pan off the heat and scrape the stuffing into a bowl.
Let the stuffing cool, and then stir in the pine nuts, grated cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and the beaten egg, mixing thoroughly.
At this time, set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 400°.
Trimming and Stuffing the Veal Breast:
As I explain in the sidebar, and as you can see in the photos, your stuffing method will vary with the size and cut of veal breast (and your own preferences). Follow these general steps to prepare the breast: rinse and dry it thoroughly. Check the breast for pockets of fat and remove. There is often a clump of fat on the bottom, bony side, where you will see a flap of meat partially covering the ribs. Lift this flap and cut away the fat hidden inside. Do not remove the skin on the bottom—either from the ribs or the meat flap—as it helps hold the breast together.
This flap of meat, under the ribs, is the one I use to wrap around the stuffed breast in the photos. Cut it off and shave off the silver skin from both sides, then pound it with a meat hammer or tenderizer until it is paper thin like carpaccio. And there’s your wrapper!
To stuff : follow the method shown in the photos, first cutting a pocket in the meaty layers on top of the ribs, then filling it with your stuffing. Enclose the breast and exposed stuffing with the pounded veal flap (or use bacon strips or prosciutto slices) and tie securely with kitchen twine.
If you have a whole veal breast tip cut, you need only slice open the pocket on the wide side down to the tip and push the stuffing in toward the closed tip. Then tie the roast closed.
Filling the pan and roasting the veal:
Put the tied breast in the roasting pan and sprinkle the salt all over, patting the crystals into the meat. Pour on the olive oil and rub it all over. Set the breast rib side down in the center of the pan.
Put all the chopped vegetables, the prunes, and seasonings (except the salt) in a big bowl and toss with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. If your broth is unsalted, add 1 teaspoon salt to the vegetables—use less salt or no salt, if your broth is salted already. Scatter the vegetables and seasonings around the veal in the pan. Pour in the white wine and 2 cups or more broth or water so the cooking liquid is about 1/2-inch deep in the pan.
Cover the pan with one or more long sheets of aluminum foil, arching the foil if necessary to keep it from touching the meat and vegetables. Crimp the foil around the rim of the pan and press it tightly against the sides all around, sealing the veal and vegetables in a tent.
Set the pan in the oven and roast for an hour, then bring the roasting pan up front and carefully remove the foil. The veal should be lightly brown and the juices bubbling. Baste with the juices, turn the vegetables over and push the pan back into the oven.
Roast for another hour or so, uncovered basting every 20 minutes and rotating the pan back to front for even cooking. The top of the veal breast should be brown and crusty; the vegetables lightly browned as well, and the liquid considerably reduced. Remove from the oven.
Making the sauce and finishing the roast
Lift out the veal breast with a large spatula, or by holding it with towels, and rest it on a platter while you start the sauce.
With a potato masher, crush the cooked vegetables in the juices, breaking them up into little bits. Set the sieve over the saucepan and pour everything from the pan through, pressing the solids against the sieve with a big spoon to release their liquid, and then discard the remains. Let the juices rest and when the fat rises to the top, skim it off. Set the saucepan over high heat, bring the juices to a boil and reduce them, uncovered, until they they’ve thickened to a syrupy sauce.
Meanwhile, return the veal to the roasting pan and pour with any accumulated into the sauce pan. Baste the veal one more time with hot juices and put it back in the oven to roast for 30 minutes more until it is dark and crusty on top and the sides are browned as well.
To make sure the stuffing is cooked too, insert an instant read thermometer into the stuffing layer. At 160° degrees, it is ready.
Deboning the veal and serving:
Remove the veal from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Cut away the kitchen twine. Remove the ribs, pulling them out one at a time while holding the roast steady.
Slice crosswise in thick slices with a sharp serrated knife. Lay the slices on a warm platter, showing off the stuffing layer, and moisten with the sauce. Pass more sauce at the table.