In Robin Howe’s All Colour Cooking is a recipe for chopped veal that originates in Switzerland where it is known as Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch. What is so interesting about the chopped veal recipe is that the only ingredients are the meat, onions and butter, and salt, pepper and lemon juice for seasoning. Howe says the Zurich variation has mushrooms while in St. Gallen, cream is added to the dish. But what really interested me was finding out how much flavor the meat can absorb from the butter and whether it is enough to make a savory dish.
So, I did a little experiment. I wouldn’t know where to buy veal in the boondocks — it’s not even widely available in the city — but since it was an experiment, I decided to go with pork. No mushrooms like Zurich’s Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch and no cream like the St. Gallen version. Instead, pearl potatoes and French beans. And just a tiny bit of chili to add some bite.
Pearl potatoes are small potatoes no more than an inch and a half in diameter. They are much cheaper than their larger siblings. The skin is thin and soft and peeling is optional.
French beans are a variety of string beans. They are thinner and shorter than the native Baguio beans, crunchier but not as sweet.
The ingredients having been introduced, what was my conclusion after my experiment? It is this: Butter is indispensable in the kitchen. And, yes, butter is more than enough for cooking and flavoring a dish. I don’t care about the bad press and the health scare. Butter is natural and I’d rather have that than any artificial substitute. I doubt that any substitute can ever replicate the natural flavors and aroma of butter.
about 15 pearl potatoes
300 grams of lean pork, tenderloin (lomo) is the best cut for this dish
about a hundred grams of French beans
1/4 cup of butter (that’s 1/4 of a 225-gram block), softened
1 to 2 onions
freshly ground pepper
juice of half a lemon
1 red chili, seeded and sliced (optional)
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Cooking procedure :
Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender but not mushy (about 10 minutes). Drain. Peel off the skin if you prefer. I did to make them kid-friendly. :)
Trim the ends and sides of the French beans. Cut in half if you prefer although, with the size of French beans, cutting isn’t really necessary. Blanch in boiling water for a minute, drain then plunge in iced water. Drain and set aside.
Cut the pork into half-inch cubes.
Peel and coarsely chop the onion(s).
Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the chopped onion(s) and cook just until they start to turn soft. Add the pork (and chili, if using), season with salt and cook over medium-high heat until the edges of the pork start to brown.
Add the pearl potatoes and French beans and cook to heat the vegetables and to coat them with butter.
Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and stir. Add lots of freshly ground pepper and give a final stir. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
The Swiss enjoy their Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch with rosti. My buttered pork and vegetables were perfect with hot rice. :)