This past week, with 3 other food bloggers, I participated in a Jell-O dare. Or, as I prefer to call this challenge: The Knoxapocalypse. The rules were that each of us would select a gelatin-centric recipe, the recipes would be randomly assigned, and then we’d have to make our assigned dish. No substitutions were allowed unless allergy-related (the links to the other contenders are at the bottom of this post).
I got a real winner.
Join me for some Jellied Veal, won’t you?
That was quickly followed by, “man, veal is so goddamned expensive!” Seriously. I spent almost $20 on the veal.
Then I decided to do a little research and see exactly what I was up against. Veal brawn or Kalvsylta is a dish from Sweden that is traditionally served on Christmas Eve as part of the Julbord (holiday Smorgasborg). The other usual suspects include a holiday ham, assorted pickled herring, beets, eggs, caviar, gravlax, Swedish meatballs, and this jellied veal thingie. Oh! And of course some Holiday Glögg. One mustn’t forget the Glögg.
Jellied Veal, or brawn, is also commonly referred to as headcheese. This excited me greatly because I always wanted to know what headcheese was and I have now made one in my very own home!
I should note that I cut this recipe in half. What in the hell would I do with 2 pounds of Jellied Veal, right? Also, I don’t have white peppercorns in my spice rack nor was I able to find any at the grocery store. Black peppercorns had to suffice.
This is a terribly easy recipe. If you can make chicken broth, you can make Jellied Veal!
The cooking methods used are just boiling and chopping. I just boiled the meat from 6pm to 7:50. Separated the bone and gristle/fat from the meat. Put the bone/gristle/fat back into the water and let that boil further while I chopped the meat.
Let me say how good this meat was. I am not lying when I say that the meat and the broth were amazing. Amazingly simple and amazingly good.
At 8:15 I strained the bone/gristle/fat and seasonings out of the pot and then added the minced meat back into the stock with 1 packet of Knox unflavored gelatin. I seasoned it to taste and then it went into the mold.
In the Jellied Veal photos I found on the interwebs, the brawn was in loaf-form. And although I do have a loaf pan, I halved the recipe and didn’t have enough to fill the loaf pan. So I went with a smaller mold. I picked a ring mold because I’m fancy like that.
And into the fridge the jellied veal went to congeal overnight.
That sounded almost poetic.
Cleve was dreading it, but on Sunday afternoon I served my Jellied Veal. I paired it with some items that I had in my house that I found on a Julborg menu: horseradish, mustard, beets, cornichons, crackers, and lingonberry jam (that I just got from the IKEA).
It was a bitch to get out of the mold–the Kalvsylta wanted to stay in its little copper house–but finally it emerged in all it’s jiggly, glossy glory…
There it is. My Kalvsylta.
If I had used a meat grinder the consistency would be finer and much more like a luncheon meat or a sausage. A liverwurst, perhaps. But as is it was–well, it was minced meat in Jell-O. But it wasn’t like just big hunks of meat suspended in clear goo. The thought of that is quite unnerving. As is, it was minced meat that was just kinda glossy.
I swear on Elvis’ grave that I’m not lying when I tell you this was good. This isn’t completely surprising since the broth and meat pre-gelatin were tasty. Cleve agreed that the Kalvsylta tasted good, but he couldn’t get past the consistency. I’m proud that he gave it a try.
However, I like knuckle food and I do enjoy pate and foie gras, so I didn’t mind this at all. Cleve will vouch for me: I made a yummy sound while eating the Kalvsylta.
So that settles it. I eat weird shit. And I like it.
I should also note that Brian was quite intrigued by the Jellied Veal and was all up in my business trying to nab some. It does make a lot of sense considering that result was rather cat-food like.
Am I hankering to make this again? No. But it could’ve been much worse. I could’ve been assigned a dish with canned tuna!
An aside: Cleve and I had a very Swedish weekend. We watched The Girl Who Played With Fire, went to IKEA in a futile attempt to get a dinette set, ate Swedish Meatballs, drank Lingonberry soda, and then I made this thing.
We have decided that if Rick Santorum becomes president we are going to go to Sweden and become illegal immigrants. We’d just pepper our names with some umlauts or something.
If I survived the Kalvsylta I think that I’d have no problems weathering the winters or whatever else Sweden would throw at me. Plus it seems so clean and pretty. And I do like that mid-century modern Swedish aesthetic.
If you were shocked/appalled/amazed/enthralled/and/or offended by this gelatin mold, I highly suggest you see what the other victims–um, participants–had to suffer through.
So what did you think of my Jellied Veal? Anyone want to take bets that none of the other ladies enjoyed eating their dishes as much as I did?