Today we’re going hardcore and and adapting a Ragoo of Veal straight out of Hannah Glasse’s 1745 classic The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. A ragoo is one of those two-step cooking processes beloved of kitchens with a lot of manpower. It’s the 18th Century precursor to the modern ragout, but with browning somewhere during the cooking process. Hannah Glasse says:

To Ragoo a Breast of Veal: Take your breast of veal, put it in a large stew-pan, put in a bundle of sweet herbs, an onion, some black and white pepper, a blade or two of mace, two or three cloves, a very little bit of lemon-peel, and just cover it with water; when it is tender take it up, bone it, put in the bones, and boil it up until the gravy is very good, then strain it off, and if you have a little rich beef-gravy, add a quarter of a pint, put in half an ounce of truffles and morels, a spoonful or two of catchup, two or three spoonfuls of white wine, and let them all boil together; in the mean time flour the veal, and fry it in butter until it is of a fine brown, then drain out the butter and pour the gravy you are boiling to the veal, with a few mushrooms; boil all together until the sauce is rich and thick, and cut the sweetbread into four. A few force-meat balls are proper in it. Lay the veal in a dish and pour the sauce over it. Garnish with lemon.

This is my bachelor, end-of-the-month budget approximation:

1. Take your breast of veal and put it in a pot big enough to hold it. Add:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp each sage, parsley, thyme, and savory. If you have access to fresh herbs make a bouquet garni of 2 stalks parsley, 2 springs of thyme and savory, and 2 sage leaves.
  • 1/4 tsp Mace
  • 1/2 tsp each black and white pepper
  • 3 whole cloves
  • Lemon zest to taste

Boil a teakettle full of water and add enough to cover the veal. Boil for about 30-40 minutes or until tender.


2. When the veal is tender, take it out and bone it. This is much easier after boiling than before.

Step 2. Debone

Put the bones back in the pot with:

  • 2/3 cup beef broth.
  • 1/4 lb mushrooms. I’d have used truffles if I’d had the money, but button mushrooms work fine.
  • 3 tbs white wine
  • 1 tbs English-style catchup or, as a last resort, a dash of Asian fish sauce and a little vinegar.

Let all this stuff boil for another 20-30 minutes while you cover the veal and keep it warm.

3. Put a teaspoon or so of butter into a saute pan, dust the veal with flour, and brown it on both sides.


4. Take the veal out of the pan and discard the butter. Put it back in and pour on some of the gravy you have simmering after first discarding the bones. You can also pop in some sliced fresh mushrooms. Add a little arrowroot or other starch to encourage thickening. When the sauce has a nice glossy look to it, take the veal out, put it on a serving dish, and pour the sauce over.

So serve it forth...

I was pretty pleased with this attempt. The ragoo-ing process is pretty involved, so I don’t know if I’d do it again for myself, but it would make a great main dish for a dinner with friends. Another good side effect is that this recipe makes a good amount of flavorful gravy, which is reusable with other recipes. Sadly the pudding I was making to accompany my ragoo completely failed to turn out, so I had to go with some leftover rice pilaf instead.