With . . . Grilled Veal Chops
by Paul Lukacs and Marguerite Thomas
There’s no getting around the fact that veal chops
are expensive. Unless your pockets
are considerably deeper than ours, you probably are not inclined to invest in
six or eight of them to serve at a dinner party. You might, however, want to spring for a couple of the meaty
morsels if you’re designing a delicious dinner à deux.
Our favorite recipe for veal chops on the grill is
adapted from one that Michael Franz, our friend and WRO colleague, shared with
us many years ago. It’s a honey
mustard and sage glaze that gives the meat a slightly sweet sheen as well as an
earthy edge. It not only helps
bring out the best flavor in the chops, but also allows them to shine alongside
the accompanying dishes of your choice, everything from baked or roasted
potatoes to something more elaborate—spinach soufflé, for example, if you’re
really going for gourmet glam. We generally keep the meal fairly simple,
dishing the chops up with a heap of sautéed mushrooms, a side of salad, soft
candlelight, and a bottle of excellent wine.
Grilled Veal Chops
1 ½ tablespoons honey mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
2 loin veal chops, preferably about an inch thick
Salt and pepper
charcoal or gas grill for both direct and indirect cooking. As the grill heats, mix together the
honey mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, and sage so that it forms a light paste
or glaze. (If it seems too thick,
add more oil and lemon juice; if too thin, add more mustard.) Season both sides of the chops with
salt and pepper, and liberally coat one side with the glaze. Grill the chops, with the coated side
facing up, over direct heat for three or four minutes, or until the chops are
seared, with a crusty exterior.
Using tongs, turn them and move them over to the side of the grill with
indirect heat. Brush the now
seared top sides with the remaining glaze, and cook until done (140° degrees for rare, 150° for medium, using an instant-read
thermometer). Let rest, loosely
tented with aluminum foil, for five minutes before serving.
For this edition of “Wine With,” we splurged not only on the meat but
also on the wines we opened to try with them, thinking that since veal chops
are often the main ingredient in a special occasion meal, we ought to try some
special occasion wines. Perhaps
not surprisingly, with all the wines costing between $25 and $50, it was
difficult to choose our favorites.
Some wines, though, just didn’t have the stuffing to work well. A Chianti Classico, for example, seemed
tired, while a young California Pinot Noir tasted sappy and sweet. The five we are recommending, no matter
the grape variety, were more substantial. That includes the biggest surprise of
the evening, a full-bodied Chardonnay that more than held its own in the
match. We only opened current
releases so as to be most helpful to readers, but if you have a special older bottle
stashed away somewhere, this might be a good meal with which to drink it.
Sonoma Valley (California) Malbec 2007
impressive because firm in addition to ripe, this deeply-flavored red helped
make the veal itself taste deep and rich. It was a marvelous pairing, featuring what we concluded is
a truly stellar wine—the best California Malbec we have yet tasted.
Alexander Valley (California) Zinfandel “Two Patch” 2008
inherently exuberant and briary character is balanced in this wine by a
lushness that gives the wine surprising refinement and grace. That winning combination helped it
star with our chops.
Napa Valley (California) Chardonnay 2009
opened this white wine as an experiment, and found to our considerable
surprise that it paired very well with what we always had thought of as an
exclusively red wine dish. The
key, we suspect, comes from the glaze, which imparts a somewhat citrus-like
sweetness that this very nicely balanced wine echoed.
Abbey, Napa Valley (California) Merlot 2008
and more substantial than many Merlots, this wine offered dark cherry fruit
flavors. Though not overtly sweet,
the wine’s forward fruit flavors complemented the glazed meat very well.
Stellenbosch (South Africa) Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
by Vineyard Brands)
Unlike the Freemark Abbey Merlot
(which we liked equally well), this wine’s calling card consists of earthy,
leathery, and slightly herbal flavors, with ripe fruit playing an important
but not necessarily a leading role.
That character helped bring out similar flavors in the grilled, glazed
meat, making for a very satisfying but clearly different combination.