Veal is tender, delicate meat, typically taken from male dairy calves. With around 1 gram of fat per ounce, veal is lean in comparison to most other meats. Its taste is delicate, but similar to beef, and it goes best with mild seasonings. Brining veal enhances its natural texture and flavor, often eliminating the need to season the meat before you cook it.
Brining is the process of soaking meat in a salt and water mixture, hydrating its cells. The salt within the water causes the meat’s proteins to coagulate, trapping moisture and preventing it from cooking away. The proteins’ structure also relaxes, softening the texture of the meat. While veal is already tender, its low fat content makes it prone to drying when cooked. Brining prevents this, which ensures veal stays juicy and flavorful. The salt within brine does increase the sodium content of the veal up to 100 milligrams per ounce. Based on an average 3-ounce serving of veal, that is 300 milligrams, or about 13 percent of a daily recommended maximum intake of 2,300.
Veal Brine Mixture
Pour 1 gallon of water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. The hot water dissolves the brine ingredients thoroughly for the most effective mixture. Add 1/4 cup of kosher salt and 1/2 cup of white or brown sugar to the boiling water. The sugar prevents the veal from becoming over-salted; select brown instead of white for richness. Add ingredients such as three bay leaves or 1 cup of sliced onions or carrots to add complexity to the veal’s flavor. Boil the brine for about five minutes, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Submerge the veal in the brine and refrigerate it for 90 to 120 minutes.
Cooking Brined Veal
Remove the veal from the brine and pat its exterior dry with paper towels. Allow it to rest at room temperature and air dry for 30 minutes. This warms the meat so it cooks evenly. Cook the veal with your preferred method. Brined veal cooks well with grilling, pan frying, oven roasting or broiling. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the veal’s doneness and remove it from the heat at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the veal on a plate to rest for five minutes. This allows its juices to return to the center and the temperature to rise to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, finishing the cooking process. Serve the veal while warm.
After cooking the veal, refrigerate it within two hours of removing it from the heat. Encase the veal in plastic wrap to keep it from drying. Reheat the cooked veal within four days of refrigerating it. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep the leftover veal for longer than four days, freeze it. Frozen leftover veal remains safe to consume indefinitely. However, the texture toughens over time; the sooner you reheat frozen leftover veal, the better it tastes. For juicy results, reheat refrigerated or frozen veal in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
References and ResourcesUnited States Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
MayoClinic.com: Healthy Diet
United States Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service: Veal from Farm to Table
United States Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service: Basics for Handling Food Safely
Salon: Brining Meats is Amazing. How Much Sodium Does it Add?
Wine Enthusiast Magazine: Grilled Veal Chops with Quince Compote