18 December 2012

La Blanquette

I've heard the French term « blanquette » translated into English as "blanket" — "blanket of veal." That makes me laugh, because I imagine trying to bite into and chew up a wool or fleece bed cover. Ugh. I guess the two terms are related, but the idea that the French word conveys is « blanc » or "white." A blanquette is veal or some other white meat — chicken, turkey, pork, or even lamb — cooked in and served with a white sauce.

Saturday's blanquette de veau at our house

We had blanquette de veau for dinner a couple of days ago. It's a wintertime dish. Comfort food. Bourgeois cooking (which means good home cooking). And it's a classic in France. Poking around in the blog this morning, I noticed a pattern. For us, blanquette seems to be a December dish.

It's not always veal, but it was last December (2011) as it was this past week. In December 2010, it was a blanquette de dinde — blanket of turkey, I guess you'd say. And in December 2009, it was a blanquette de poulet, but American-style: we call it chicken and dumplings. For all of them, the recipe I follow comes from a 40-year-old French cookbook that I like, and I posted it here.

A generous portion of blanquette de veau, to which I added champignons noirs
and petits oignons this time, served with noodles

What place does the blanquette de veau occupy in the French diet? There's an annual poll asking French respondents what their favorite dish is. In 2012, blanquette came in fourth, after finishing as number 1 in the same poll six years ago. The dishes that came it ahead of it this year are magret de canard (duck breast, often grilled), moules-frites (mussels and French fries), and couscous (a North African spicy meat stew of meat and summer vegetables served with couscous "grain").

More about the French food poll to come...


  1. I think the other thing that distinguishs a blanquette is that the meat is not browned before being added to the mix. Is that right?

  2. Where is the white sauce in your "blanquette"? I think that dish takes its name from the thick white sauce that blankets the meat and, probably also, from the rice that always goes with it.
    In my opinion, the dish in the photos is everything you want but a traditional "blanquette". Usually, except for the "petits oignons" [and mushrooms], you discard [?] the other vegetables the meat has cooked in.

  3. I should have said the meat cooks in a broth with carrots, onion[s], several cloves and "bouquet garni". So as Susan said [Happy birthday Susan!] the meat is not browned.

  4. Creamy sauce creamy sauce creamy sauce.... yumm:)

  5. Now I wonder how the word "blanquette" de Limoux came about ?

    Need to do some digging one of these days :-)

    I guess a lot of bottles will be consumed on Thursday evening at the Pic de Bugarach just before the Mayan Doomsday scheduled for December 21, 2012.

  6. I love blanquette! As CHM wrote, where is the sauce?

  7. Susan, as CHM says, the meat is not browned before it is cooked in liquid (water or broth + white wine). If you brown the meat you no longer have a blanquette, IMO.

    CHM, the white sauce is served on the side in this case. Taking the meat and vegetables out of the sauce makes for a better photo. And a lighter meal.

    I don't really agree about throwing out the carrots that are cooked in the liquid with the veal. What a waste that is! Carrots are good food and should be consumed, not discarded. Maybe in the olden days carrots were not considered edible, but they certainly are now.

    Beaver, the blanquette in b. de Limoux must also have to do with blanc meaning white, as in white wine.

  8. CHM, la cuisine évolue, comme la langue. De nos jours, on peut déguster une bonne blanquette avec des pommes de terre à la vapeur, des pâtes ou des nouilles, ou même du riz sauvage nord-américain !

  9. When I cooked chicken blanquette in the desert, I didn't discard the carrots and large onions but had them separately as vegetables some other day, not with the blanquette. Veal was unavailable and out of reach price-wise.

    Just like you, I love carrots but not with that dish. Frank used to say there were carrots in every dish in France! LOL

  10. Bonjour Nadege, la sauce blanche est servie en sauciere...

    CHM, si tu regardes l'article "blanquette de veau" sur wikipedia.fr, tu verras deux photos de blanquettes dans lesquelles il y a clairement des carottes. On n'arrete pas le progres (pas d'accents sur le clavier virtuel de ma petite tablette).

  11. How many pictures do you want?! Thank goodness I've eaten!!

    They all look so scrummy!

  12. OMG Ken! I am looking at all the Google photos of banquettes. I am happy I just had lunch!

  13. Amazing how many blanquette photos there are on Google.fr, n'est-ce pas ?

  14. Ken: Thanks for the birthday wishes.


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