How to Make Polish Stuffed-Breast Veal Pocket
Stuffed Veal Pocket Done to Perfection
Stuffed veal pocket, which is the breast of veal stuffed with savory ground beef, is one of our Polish family’s favorite meat dishes. It is easy to prepare, smells fantastic roasting in the oven, makes a beautiful presentation on a plate, and perhaps most important for us, reminds us of our roots.
In 1930, my mother’s mother brought this recipe with her from Poland where she had learned to make it from her mother, who had learned it from her mother. We don't know how far back in our family this sensational stuffed veal roast goes. Whenever a stuffed veal pocket appears on our dinner tables, it not only gets the taste buds going, it also brings us together as we share memories of our family's history, from the recent to the long ago.
A Fragrant Ground Beef Stuffing
Assuredly, there have been modifications along the way, but the essence of the original remains in its use of ground meat flavored with onions and garlic for the stuffing. Our version is much like a meatloaf baked inside a veal roast. The seasonings are simple, allowing the characteristic aromas and flavors of the meats to dominate.
This dish is not for you if you are concerned about fat intake and caloric content. Apropos to the expression WriteAngled shared in one of her articles, this is a meal where you must “Jedzcie, pijcie i popuszczajcie pasa!” [ Eat, drink and loosen your belt].
Bone-in Veal Pocket
Shop Around for the Veal
When we were growing up, a bone-in veal pocket was an inexpensive cut of meat. This is no longer so. Shop around a bit for the veal breast. We’ve seen the bone-in veal pocket priced anywhere from 2 to 6 USD per pound. Although some butchers and supermarkets make this cut available in their public display cases, many don’t. If you don’t see it, ask for it. Chances are it is available, and the butcher will be happy to cut it to your specifications.
- Shallow roasting pan with rack (choose a pan that is only slightly larger than the veal pocket)
- Large mixing bowl
- Thin, sharp skewers (optional)
- One 5-pound veal breast pocket, bone-in (2.27 kilograms)
- 1-1/2 pounds ground beef (.7 kilograms)
- 1 Egg
- 3/4 Cup finely grated dry bread crumbs...we use Italian flavored bread crumbs (177 milliliters)
- 1 Medium onion, finely diced
- 4 Cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/3 Cup fresh parsley, finely minced (79 milliliters)
- 1/2 Teaspoon dried, crushed basil
- 1/2 Teaspoon dried, crushed tarragon
- 1/2 Teaspoon dried, crushed marjoram
- 1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Salt and additional freshly ground black pepper
A Word About Salt
Our family rarely uses salt in cooking. Instead, we try to enhance the natural flavors of foods using herbs, spices and the freshest ingredients, and sometimes products which already contain salt such as canned chicken stock. In general, we leave the salt shaker on the table for those who care to indulge. We make an exception here with the outside of the veal; the dusting of salt seems to draw out the fat a bit more, lending a nice crisp to the skin.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
- Rinse the veal pocket inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.
- Trim off excess fat.
- Place the veal on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, rib-side down.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients except the "salt and additional freshly ground black pepper". We use our well-washed hands for this task. You could use latex gloves if the idea of bare-hand mixing does not appeal to you.
- Fill the veal pocket with the meat mixture, packing the filling tightly.
- Optional Use the skewers to construct a kind of grate over the opening to keep the filling from falling out while cooking. Pierce the top part of the pocket near the opening with a skewer, push the skewer through, and anchor the tip into the bottom flesh (see photo). You may not need to contain the filling this way, depending on the volume of the pocket.
- Dust the top and sides of the stuffed pocket with the "salt and additional freshly ground black pepper".
- Place the pan into the oven and bake uncovered for 2 to 2 ½ hours. The stuffed veal pocket is done when the stuffing is cooked through (just as a meatloaf would be) but not overcooked, and the veal has a bit of crispy skin on the outside.
- Remove the roasted veal pocket from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove the optional skewers. Slice each serving from top to bottom between the ribs and place on a warmed plate.
Presenting the Veal Pocket in Polish Style
For the warmed plate you use for serving, consider one of the traditionally designed Boleslawiec ceramics from Poland. These beautiful, high quality baking and serving dishes are inspired by Polish folk art designs and hand painted in Poland. They are safe for the oven, freezer, and microwave. Although I don't suggest roasting the veal pocket in a Boleslawiec baking dish, because the long roasting time will make for a long clean-up effort inside and out, I do recommend serving the finished veal pocket in one of these beautifully designed and practical pieces.
If there is stuffed veal left over, slice it into servings and refrigerate. The leftovers are delicious hot or cold. One of our favorite treats is a sandwich of the cold meats made with pumpernickel bread spread with mayonnaise and a dab of horseradish, served with garlic or dill pickles.
Recipes appearing in Sally’s Trove articles are original, having been created and tested in our family kitchens, unless otherwise noted.