Nothing spells delicious more aptly than veal escalope panée – lightly breaded with a thin layer of homemade crushed toast and fried in butter or ghee. With the exception of vegans and vegetarians, no one else has the excuse not to try this one – it’s simple, relatively fast (especially if you have toast on hand), very filling, and absolutely delicious.
Affectionately mispronounced bufteak, in imitation of the French biftek (or beefsteak), Egyptians have been serving this meat dish for generations. Once every week or so in the summer in Egypt, my grandma would make us a batch of bufteak, and it was decidedly my favorite day of the week. Something about the tender veal and the butter/ghee used for frying just makes my heart skip a beat. The smell of it frying would enticingly tickle my nose and increase in intensity as the last few pieces finished cooking. Eating was as satisfying as its smell would indicate. If I haven’t convinced you already that it’s a meal to be reckoned with, maybe the pictures below will do it more justice!
Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about how to eat healthily, and one of the tenets of healthy eating is cutting down (or eliminating) refined carbs, including rice, pasta, breads, pastries, etc. Of course, enjoying a serving of macarona béchamel on festive occasions won’t do much to harm your health, but the agreement among the experts in the food community is that refined carbs are bad, and should be avoided because they increase your blood glucose level sharply and cause a spike in insulin that is just as quickly removed from the blood: this produces recurrent hunger pangs.
But I had a dilemma. Bufteak as I know and love it is breaded with crumbs or toast. Eliminating that would ruin my childhood memory of the dish. In lieu of processed bread crumbs (trust me, if you read the ingredient list on most packaged bread crumbs, you’ll cringe) – I decided to toast whole wheat bread at home and crush it using the VitaMix (you can also crush it into fine powder manually using a mortar and pestle). Not only is the taste of homemade bread crumbs superior; it’s also not as artificial as the store-bought kinds. And seeing that I’m trying to control the amount of grains I consume per day (while fully eliminating refined grains), I only put a thin layer of crumbs. The taste was superb, and I didn’t compromise too much on my food philosophy. Win-win all around!
Veal Escalope Panée
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 lb of grass-fed, organic veal (should amount to about 4 large, thin pieces)
- 2 organic pastured eggs
- 4 slices of toast, ground into bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoons of grass-fed organic butter or ghee
- Himalayan (or other quality) salt, and freshly ground black pepper
(1) Cut the meat: If it doesn’t come sliced into 1/2 cm thin pieces, use a sharp knife to do so. You can also cut the pieces into smaller sizes, but you shouldn’t cut it much smaller than the size of your hand, or else it won’t be as juicy when cooked.
(2) Beat the eggs and grind the toast: In a bowl, beat 2 eggs and add seasoning (a little salt and pepper). In a VitaMix or other blender (or if you prefer, by hand), crush the toast into an almost fine powder.
(3) Soak the veal in eggs: Add the cutlets of veal in beaten eggs, and leave for 30-40 minutes for the meat to soak the flavor.
(4) Cover veal with crumbs: Add crumbs to a large bowl, and place veal with egg covering in the bowl for the crumbs to stick. Flip to the other side for even coverage, and brush off any extra crumbs to make sure the layer of crumbs is as thin as possible.
(5) Melt the butter/ghee and fry the veal: First melt 2 tablespoons of butter or ghee in a pan and slowly add the breaded veal into it. Leave to cook for 6 minutes on medium heat, then flip to the other side and cook for another 6-7 minutes, until golden-brown (watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn!). When the butter/ghee runs low, add another tablespoon or two to fry the remaining veal cutlets. You can gently slice through the meat to see if it has cooked – if you see red, keep it for another minute or two. Cooked veal has a beige color on the inside – much lighter than meat, which is usually brown.
That’s it! Make sure to eat it while hot, next to your cooked vegetables and salad. Some people add a couple of drops of lemon juice on the bufteak, but I like the meaty, buttery flavor to come through unadulterated, so I skip that step. I know lemon juice is healthy though, so I add enough of that on my salad!