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Mar 30, 2015
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WINE WITH…Veal Chops with Mushrooms and Bourbon Cream Sauce

Adam and Eve. Abbott and Costello. Gin and tonic. Some partners seem so perfect together that it’s hard to imagine a better combination. One of the classic culinary duos of this sort is the teamwork of veal and mushrooms. Umami may be one reason these two foods make such a savory match, as mushrooms are notoriously loaded with it, and veal is an unusually umami-rich meat. Julia Child, who knew a thing or two about both of them, sang the praises of this particular duet. We love her recipe for veal chops braised with mushrooms and cream: only one bite and your senses are immediately transported to Paris. We recently riffed on the classic French version of it by adding a shot of Bourbon to the mushroom and cream combo, which resulted in an exceptionally savory Franco-American dish.

Veal Chops with Mushrooms and Bourbon Cream Sauce

Serves 2

We like to serve this rich dish with a simple vegetable such as steamed spinach.

Use any type of mushrooms you like. Morels are great when you can get them. We generally rely on a combination of shitake and regular button mushrooms.

2 veal chops, about 8 ounces each
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons thyme or herbes de Provence
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
¼ cup Bourbon
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup crème fraiche or heavy cream

Trim excess fat from the chops if necessary. Stir together 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the thyme. Season with salt and pepper, then rub the mixture onto both sides of the chops. (This may be done up to a day in advance; refrigerate the chops until ready to use.)

To cook the mushrooms, place the remaining oil and the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, add the mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (adjust the heat as necessary to keep them from burning). Add the shallot and the remaining thyme, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pepper. (This also may be done ahead of time.)

To cook the veal, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large, sturdy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops and sear them until they are nicely browned on both sides, turning them once or twice until they are done, about 10-15 minutes (or until a meat thermometer registers 125-130°).

Transfer the chops to a plate and pour the Bourbon into the skillet, stirring it over medium-high heat for about a minute, then add the chicken stock. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is reduced by about half. Stir in the cream and boil it down until the sauce is nice and thick (pour in any juices that have collected under the chops). Reduce the heat, add the mushrooms and continue cooking until heated through. Spoon the sauce over the veal chops and serve immediately.

* * *

The big question to ask when choosing a wine to pair with this dish concerns whether you want to accentuate or minimize the richness of the food. A highly acidic wine will provide a foil for the creamy sauce and so lighten the dish. It may, however, also taste excessively tart. By contrast, a rich, supple wine will complement the sauce, but if too rich may seem unpleasantly heavy. We found more wines from the second category that worked well, so are emphasizing richness in our recommendations. That does not mean, though, that wines from the first group won’t work at all. Like so much in the world of food and wine, what you ultimately prefer comes down to informed personal preferences.

Questions or Comments? Contact us at [email protected]
 Follow on Twitter:  @WineWith  &  @PaulLukacs


Approx. Price


Counterpoint by Laurel Glen, Sonoma Mountain (California) Cabernet Sauvignon 2012


A full-bodied and well-balanced northern Cabernet Sauvignon, with juicy black berry flavors, a kiss of oak, and a firm structure. The wine is rich but in no sense excessive, so proved a very satisfying partner. You will especially like it if you are partial to taut, muscular reds.

Famille Perrin, Châteauneuf-du-Paper (France) “Les Sinards” 2011

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)


A somewhat internationally-styled Châteauneuf, with red fruit flavors dominating the palate, and earthier notes playing only a minor role. That profile might make the wine less interesting than some others if sampled on its own, but it also made it a great partner for this particular dish.

Spice Route, Swartland (South Africa) “Chakalaka” 2012

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)


A Rhône-styled blend, this is a spicy red with slightly sweet herbal notes underlying its primary fruit flavors. Medium-bodied, it had just the right sort of body—supple but not soft—to complement the veal, mushrooms, and rich, creamy sauce.

Talbott, Santa Lucia Highlands (California) “Sarah Case Sleepy Hollow Vineyard” 2012)


The one white wine we are recommending, thus luscious Chardonnay had just enough power to hold its own with the meaty dish. It married perfectly with the sauce.

Van Duzer, Willamette Valley (Oregon) Pinot Noir 2012


A lush Pinot Noir, this wine has an earthy undertone that echoed the mushrooms, giving the dish an added layer of complexity. Pinot and mushrooms in nearly any recipe pair nicely. In this one, they displayed a truly impressive synergy.