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Once Upon A Veal Slider

December 7, 2017

Good morning from Phoenix! Technically, I think I’m in Scottsdale. I’m sure wherever I am has some kind of colorful nickname, like Valley of the Sun. But I’ve done precious little research about the area. All I know is that there is a thing called fry bread and another thing called Sonoran hot dogs, and I’d like to try both of those. Plus my fellow pizza judge and the biggest pizza geek I know, Jon in Albany, has a pizza place out here that’s on his bucket list. So I’ll have go there too.

Sometimes, the things that I do take me on the road.

As of yet, I have no blog worthy tales from the road. I grabbed a quick snack at the “farm to terminal” place in the Orlando airport and day drank my way across the country while reading a novel. I can tell you that Southwest stocks Fat Tire on its flights, which is cool. But they keep the beer so cold that I had to warm it up in my hands for a while before I could open the can. Hey, it’s a drink and an activity. But I kind of felt like a hipster beer jerk doing it.

It just so happens that I’ve been sitting on a tale from the road from an earlier adventure, and given that I’m traveling this week, now seems like a perfect time to share the story of the veal sliders.

Maybe you read an earlier post of my trip to the Finger Lakes with the New York Beef Council. There is still so much to tell from that weekend, and it truly did have a profound effect on me and improved my opinions of conventionally raised meat.

One of the things I was looking forward to the most was the slider cooking session.

There I was, surrounded by professional bloggers and talented Instagramers, in a teaching kitchen to demonstrate my cooking prowess. There were culinary instructors on hand, and each station was set up with a different recipe, along with all the ingredients one would need to prepare the dish. Some sliders were beef. Other sliders were veal.

I wanted to work with the ground veal.

Primarily because up until that point, I have literally never ever cooked with veal in my life. For some reason or another, it was just something I would either eat at a restaurant, or when a more talented home cook was making it for me. Raf once had a memorable veal breast, and I also recall it was an important part of his meatball mix.

Regardless, I’ve found that taking a cooking class, or working alongside professionals, can take the anxiety out of working with a new protein. Even though I haven’t cooked mussels since I took that Spanish cooking class, I would totally be comfortable preparing them at home. I’ve done it before. I can do it again.

But back to ground veal sliders.

The first station I found for a veal slider wasn’t really a slider at all, but more of a veal sloppy joe. And while that may have been delicious, I wanted to try my hand at pan frying veal patties. So I moved to the french onion veal slider station. Which was either the best decision I could have ever made, or maybe one of the biggest mistakes.

You see, the thing was, that we were supposed to bang out a plate of eight of these sliders in under an hour. Except my recipe called for caramelizing a crap ton of onions, which took just about the full time. So there I was in the final minutes, everyone else is taking time to make all their platters beautiful for Instagram, and I’m a sweaty mess just trying to get it all done.

Mine were the very last to be completed.
They also may have been the most delicious.
Without a doubt, they were certainly the ugliest of the bunch.
That said, they weren’t so ugly that I’m embarrassed to show off the prettiest one.

It’s hard to cook in a new kitchen, when you don’t know where anything is, and you can’t even figure out how to turn on the stove without assistance. One thing I found a bit worrying was that more people didn’t seem to be going to the sink to scrub up after touching raw meat. I’m not a food safety fascist. But I do try extra hard to avoid cross contamination.

Here’s my food safety lesson for the day: wash wash wash, wash wash wash, wash wash your hands.

The build of my french onion veal sliders was pretty simple: bun, a dijon and mayo spread, a leaf of lettuce, the patty, the onions, and a crisped cracker made from gruyere cheese. Those were fun to make, even if mine came out extra large. Listen. Nobody complains about too much crispy cheese.

I also didn’t really read the recipe ahead, so I forgot to also melt cheese on top of the veal patties themselves. Oops. But I did do something else to increase the deliciousness of the sliders.

When cooking off the patties, they released a bunch of veal fat into the pan, so I mixed that with some melted butter, and used those combined fats to brush the buns before toasting them in the oven. It’s the little details that really help put something over the top. Like the thyme and brandy in the caramelized onions.

Working with onions takes time. It does. But it’s worth it. And I love the process. At home I keep a bowl of onions by the stove, and when my bowl gets empty, I feel like I’ve really been cooking. In the teaching kitchen I got some further instruction about when to cut onions pole to pole, and when to cut them crosswise. Plus, I was given a few tips from a fellow blogger on knife skills.

Knife skills are important. And it’s great to learn new things.

Will we start making veal sliders at home? Well, I haven’t made the mussels yet. But it’s a possibility. For now, ground veal is going to be made into a relatively quick pasta sauce, because everyone in the family loves that. The french onion veal sliders were delicious, but really a lot of work. If I made plane veal sliders for my kids, they would probably just douse them in ketchup and ruin the delicacy of the experience.

Cooking for kids. Man, I tell you. It’s a challenge.

Hey! The upside of working wherever I want means I can occasionally make myself a homemade lunch. I wouldn’t go full french onion on a lunchtime veal slider, but I might pick up a quarter pound of the stuff at Whole Foods sometime and make myself a little treat. Actually, that’s a great idea. I’ll keep you posted.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. EPT permalink
    December 7, 2017 10:08 am

    Daniel, In Scottsdale you should try RA Sushi, some interesting things on the menu. It’s been a lot of years since we were there but I remember it was a very good place to hang for a bit.

  2. December 7, 2017 2:40 pm

    “Jon in Albany, has a pizza place out here that’s on his bucket list. So I’ll have [to] go there too.”

    That ‘pizza place’ is Pizzeria Bianco, and you MUST visit if you even remotely care about pizza. The two pies I had at Bianco is the best pizza I’ve ever eaten.

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