Veal Rib Eye with Morels

Morels or Not?

In January 2019 one person died and over 30 people became ill after having eaten at Riff, the one Michelin star restaurant in Valencia. Media were quick in their analysis and decided that it was caused by the morels in one of the dishes. Today (April 4th) it’s not yet clear what caused the catastrophe.

Most sources mention that Morels contain some kind of toxin, one that can be destroyed by heating the morels. So lesson one with morels is not to eat them raw; they must be sautéed for a few minutes. Luckily the taste improves when sautéing them a bit longer, let’s say 10 minutes, so the toxin should be gone by then. However… some people report an upset stomach after having eaten morels and drinking alcohol. If you’re not used to eating morels, it could be wise to eat just a few and see how you react.

Look-A-Likes

A clear risk with morels is the fact that some other mushrooms are true look-a-likes. For example the highly toxic early morel or wrinkled thimble-cap and other ‘false’ morels. So picking them yourself is not a good idea unless you are an experienced morel-hunter. If you buy them (like we do), then buy them fresh or dried from a reliable source.

China

Some media mentioned that the morels used at Riff were brought in from China. Is that a problem? Yes from a sustainability point of view and No from a morel point of view. Morels are found in abundance in North America, Australia, China, Poland, France, India, Pakistan and many other countries, so why distrust them when they originate from China?

Back to Riff

Our humble view is that morels are in the mushroom top three together with Cèpes and Truffle. We are perfectly happy to eat them, for instance combined with Veal. And we look forward to having dinner at Riff when we are in Valencia later this year.

Wine Pairing

We prefer a full-bodied red wine, for instance a Nero d’Avola. We enjoyed a glass of Vanitá Nero d’Avola Organico Terre Siciliane I.G.T. 2016. It goes very well with the rich flavours of the veal and the morels. The wine comes with raspberries, red fruits and just a touch of vanilla. It has medium sweetness and a hint of herbs and spices, almost cinnamon. A long aftertaste and light tannins.

What You Need

  • Rib Eye of Veal
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Morels
  • Veal stock
  • Spinach

What You Do

Fry the Rib Eye in a heavy iron skillet for a few minutes until (very) pink. Wrap in aluminium foil and allow to rest. Reduce the heat and if necessary add some extra butter to the pan. Add the cleaned and halved morels and sauté gently. Add some veal stock and juices from the rib eye. In a small pan heat some olive oil, add the dry spinach and stir constantly. Serve the rib eye with the sauce, the morels and the spinach. Spring on your plate!

Veal Cheeks with Pak Choi (Bok Choy)

Joue de Veau

You may have spotted this in a French Boucherie or Supermarket. Probably close to the Ris de Veau, the Collier D’Agneau and the Abats de Porc. Not the most obvious choices, but in reality the Joue de Veau (Veal Cheek) is a true delicacy. The meat requires a few hours to become tender, but it’s worth the wait. When you serve it you will pleasantly surprised: the meat is extremely tender, juicy and a touch of pink on the inside. Which makes it a great idea to serve it sliced, especially because the outside of the meat is deep dark brown.
The Joue or Cheek requires cleaning. Best is to ask your butcher to do this or use a very sharp knife.
We use a classic combination carrot, onion, leek and celeriac plus red wine and a bouquet garni. Don’t make the bouquet too powerful; the idea is to support the meat, nothing else.
No need to use an expensive wine for the stew. A simple, red wine is fine. Some people will argue that the wine you use for cooking must be the one you serve with the food. Nonsense. Feel free to drink a Baralo (like we did) with the Veal Cheeks, but don’t waste half a bottle of it by using it as a cooking liquid.
The Pak Choi works really well with the Veal Cheeks. It brings the bitterness of cabbage, balancing the sweetness of the meat and the deep taste of the sauce. Plus the fried Pak Choi is a bit crispy, both the leaves and the stem, which is great in combination with the moist, tender meat.

Wine Pairing

A full-bodied red wine with clear tannins, a delicate smell and red fruit aromas will be an excellent choice. Velvety and smooth. As the Veal Cheeks: simple yet complex. We drank a glass of Barolo San Silvestro, Serra Dei Turchi, 2014. A perfect match with the braised veal, the sauce and the cabbage.

What You Need

  • 2 Veal Cheeks (one per person)
  • Carrot
  • Celeriac
  • Onion
  • Leek
  • Olive Oil
  • Bouquet Garni
    • Bay Leaf
    • Thyme
    • Parsley
  • Red Wine
  • Cognac
  • (baby) Pak Choi (Bok Choy)

What You Do

Start by adding oil to the pan. Fry the Veal Cheeks until they have a nice, golden colour. Transfer to a plate. Add more oil and fry the chopped vegetables. Be careful not to add too much carrot or celeriac. Stir for a few minutes and then add the meat. Add wine and the bouquet garni. Leave on a low heat for 4-6 hours until tender. Make sure to turn the meat every hour or so. Cool the stew and transfer to the refrigerator. The next day remove the fat (if any) and warm the stew. When warm, transfer the meat to a plate and keep warm (for instance in an oven of 70 C, the ideal temperature for your plates as well). Remove the vegetables and the bouquet. Reduce the liquid with one-third or more. Taste the sauce. Add a splash of cognac. Black Pepper? Cook a few minutes longer allowing for the alcohol to evaporate.
In a non-sticky pan heat some oil and fry the Pak Choi for 2 times 2 minutes, maximum. In parallel fry the meat in a non-sticky pan, one or two minutes in total. This will give the meat a crispy touch and an even deeper dark brown colour. Serve the Joue de Veau with the sauce, crusty bread and the Pak Choi.