A rack of veal is just a larger version of a lamb rack, a prepared loin joint that has been chined and its rib-bone tips cleaned (known as French cut). The potato cake is layered potato, baked with tender cooked chard stems and chopped kumquats, then fried. It takes time to prepare and make, but is worth it. It also makes a stylish garnish for beef, venison or duck magret.
1 rack of veal, about 2.5 lb, “French cut”
1.4 oz (3-1/3 tbsp) butter
3 tbsp olive oil
5 fresh sage leaves
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 oz (2.5 tbsp) sugar
1-3/4 oz (1/4 c) sherry vinegar
7 oz (3/4 c) red Lillet
1 tbsp flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the potato cake:
1 bunch Swiss chard
1.4 oz (3-1/3 tbsp) butter
3 large even-sized roasting potatoes
3-1/2 oz kumquats, finely chopped
1. Make the potato cake first. Cut the Swiss chard’s fleshy stems from the leaves. Use the leaves (cooked like spinach) for another meal. Using a swivel peeler peel the ribs of the leaves if they are thick, then boil in salted water with the butter until they are meltingly tender and the liquid has reduced to a buttery glaze. Cool.
2. Peel the potatoes and slice to a 3mm thickness (slightly less than 1/4 inch).
3. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350º F/Gas 4. Line a medium rectangular or square baking dish with non-stick baking parchment. Using half the potatoes, place a layer slightly overlapping on the base and season lightly. Top with a layer of chard, then sprinkle with the kumquats. Top with a layer of the remaining potatoes, cover with a sheet of baking paper and place another baking dish of the same size on top to weigh it down. Bake in for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool, still weighted down. Leave until it is quite cold. This can be made beforehand and chilled.
4. To cook the veal, first heat the oven to 475º F/Gas 9. Heat a large roasting pan or frying pan on the stove with the butter and half the oil, the sage leaves and garlic cloves. Sear the veal rack on all sides until nicely browned and then place in the hot oven.
5. Turn the heat down to 350º F/Gas 4 and cook for 30 minutes, basting the joint once or twice with the pan juices, then reduce to 300º F/Gas 2 for a further 15 minutes. The meat should by now be cooked, slightly pink and juicy inside. Remove the meat to a warmed platter to rest for 15 minutes.
6. While the meat is cooking, start the sauce. Put the sugar and half the sherry vinegar in a medium saucepan and heat until dissolved, then raise the heat, add the Lillet and boil until reduced by half. Stir the flour into the roasting pan with the meat juices, then mix in about half a cup of water. Mix this into the pan with the sauce base and heat until it thickens. Simmer for a minute or so, then add the remaining vinegar and season to taste.
7. To finish cooking the potato cake, remove from the dish and peel off the paper, then cut into four squares or rectangles. Add the remaining oil to a hot frying pan and cook the potato cake until golden brown and crisp on both sides. It is important to have a nice golden color!
8. Strain the sauce into a jug, cut the meat into chops and serve with the potato cake. A nicely dressed green salad would complete this delicious meal.
From Cuisinier Gascon: Meals from a Gascon Chef, by Pascal Aussignac. Buy the book