Veal Shoulder Steak with Port Fennel Mushroom Sauce

Like most braises, this isn’t quite hot-summer-day food, but if you can’t wait til winter (and given the seasons for one of the key ingredients, winter isn’t possible), this is a good dish for a gloomy, rainy day when you want something hearty to warm you up from the inside out. First, a fennel bulb (a fun vegetable to work with) is caramelized and braised with mushrooms to make a delicious side dish and leave a strongly flavored broth behind which, combined with a bit of Port, is used for braising a veal shoulder steak.

This is something of an ugly duckling. If you tell me that photo looks beautiful, I’d say you’re being polite (but I would also serve you dinner…see how much you get if you tell me what you really think of that photo! 😉 ). But that’s just fine as we all know how the ugly duckling routine goes–flavor-wise, this meal is a beauty!

This dish had a really hearty, full-bodied sauce, a real positive result from using a fatty, tougher cut of meat. After braising the veal to tender perfection, the sauce takes on a really rich veal essence as well as the light, sweet anisey flavor from fennel. The caramelized fennel and mushrooms are surprisingly light, sweet, and earthy. All together, this was just a rich and delicious dinner.

  • 1.25 lbs veal shoulder steak
  • 1 fennel bulb (and the fronds)
  • 1.5 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • 1 cup port
  • sugar
  • 1 shallot
  • 6 cloves garlic

Strip off the fronds (save them! You can use them just like any other herb–and you will later in this recipe) and cut the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom. Fill a saucepan with the chicken stock and get it simmering, at which point, you should add the fennel and simmer actively for 10 minutes.

Towards the end of the 10 minutes, add in the lemon juice, 1 Tbsp of the butter, a dash of salt & pepper, and finally the mushrooms. Wait for the stock to return to a bubbly simmer, at which point you should remove the pan from the heat and let it rest covered for 10 minutes.

Once time is up, strain out the solids and reserve the liquid in a bowl. Add the port to the liquid and set this aside for now.

In a hot pan, melt 1 Tbsp of butter and sauté the softened fennel bulb, seasoning all sides with salt, pepper, and sugar. Caramelize all sides, lightly browning the fennel for about 2 minutes on each side.

Arrange the mushrooms and caramelized fennel in a baking dish, spreading small chunks of the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter throughout. Cover this with tin foil and bake it in the oven at 350°F for 40 minutes.

While the fennel and mushrooms are finishing up, its time to work on the veal. Begin by mincing the shallot and garlic.

Now, season the veal with salt and pepper on all sides. In a hot pan, melt a knob of butter and brown the veal on all sides. Remove the veal from the pan and set it aside for now. In the same pan and oil, sauté the shallot for 5 minutes followed by the garlic for another minute.

Deglaze the pan with the reserved port/broth liquid from earlier, return the veal to the pan, and warm this up to a boil. Slide a few fennel fronds into the liquid, cover the pan, and transfer this to the oven (along with the cooking fennel/mushroom) for 45 minutes.

Once time is up, the veal should be fork tender and smelling amazing. Remove the veal from the pan and set it aside from now so that we can boil the broth down to be a thicker sauce. Discard the wilted fennel fronds since they’ve served their purpose.

Looking at my first plating photos from above, in retrospect, I should have also poured this liquid through a strainer so that I could discard the garlic and shallots as they’ve served their purpose, but its really not the end of the world if you don’t. Boil this hard for a few (5-10) minutes until the liquid is reduced by at least half (or more if you’d like the liquid to be a thicker consistency and consider a bit of flour/cornstarch if you want it much thicker. I was happy with a soupy consistency).

Finally, plating time. Sadly, this isn’t the sexiest looking dish, but you and your guests won’t care. Plate a pile of fennel and mushrooms, a piece of veal, and pour on a bit of the sauce, maybe decorating with a fennel frond or two…since everyone will know what that odd looking leaf is. 😉


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23 Responses to “Veal Shoulder Steak with Port Fennel Mushroom Sauce”

  1. clumbsycookie Says:

    Mike I can almost smell it! What a nice meal!

  2. Ivy Says:

    Mushrooms and fennel bulb are my favourite and this is a recipe I will book mark.

  3. kittie Says:

    A beauiful (sounding! 😉 dish!

    I’ll say whatever I need to for a dinner invite!

  4. noble pig Says:

    You know which photo is my favorite? The fennel bulb shot with all the browned spots…to die for!

    Now I just need it to rain so I can make this.

  5. Mikky Says:

    i can just imagine how that must taste like… looks so yummy… now, hand it over… :)

  6. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    Not quite the meal for the 85-degree weather we’re having today, but will save this for later in the season!

  7. Kevin Says:

    I don’t know about beautiful but it certainly looks tasty. I like the sound of the mushroom and fennel combo.

  8. Hélène Says:

    This looks like a meal I would enjoy. I love all of these flavors.

  9. pam Says:

    Sounds great! If I can’t get veal shoulder (and I’m sure I can’t), what meat would you suggest as a substitute?

  10. Dragon Says:

    I don’t this this is an ugly duckling at all and I love, love, love that you used Port wine in this dish. It’s my favourite.

  11. Susan from Food Blogga Says:

    Well, you had me at fennel, Mike. I think it infuses dishes with such flavor, and the combo of garlic and shallots must be incredible.

  12. Heather Says:

    The shorter days is making pretty photos hard to obtain (unless you have the sick lighting setup). At least your meal writes up good! I made sloppy joe’s and mac n’ chee tonight. Not even sunlight can save that plate. 😛

  13. grace Says:

    do you ever have the urge to toss your camera aside and just dig in? frankly, i don’t see how you can fight it. :)

  14. nina Says:

    Winter is making us grab for our goats and jackets before it will make way for spring, so this is such a nice recipe. Real heartwarming comfortfood!

  15. Jeff Says:

    I knew it you were stealing pictures and now I see your real photography skills (hehehehe)

    Nicely done brother! It is that time of year to start thinking heavier dishes and this sounds amazing!

  16. Poonam Says:

    Port fennel mushroom sauce sounds mouth watering!

  17. RecipeGirl Says:

    No, not sexy. In fact meat dishes are sometimes entirely difficult to photograph period! I would say that, because I love veal, it looks delicious to me. And I’d let you serve this to me anytime!!!

  18. Dee Says:

    I love to eat veal but have never cooked with it. Nor fennel. The seeds are easy enough to come by, but the bulbs are a bit hard to find, and very expensive when I do. I must get over my fear and thrift because this sounds too good to pass up.

    I love the fifth photo 😉

  19. heather Says:

    mike, the caramelized fennel looks stunning, and i lvoe the cutting board shot! i love fennel, so this sounds just utterly delicious to me!

  20. Judy Says:

    What a great way to use fennel. I bet it was delicious. You are definitely a braver man than I as I will be waiting until the temp goes below 90 to start braising!!

  21. dawn Says:

    It’s hard to make any type of meat with sauce dish photograph well. Unless it’s in a pie and has the crust to fancy it up.
    I tried like the devil to get a good photograph of corn chowder, no such luck.

  22. Toni Says:

    Winter is a looooong way off here in southern California, but I absolutely adore cooked fennel! The sauce looks like it would be spectacular on chicken as well as veal.

    As for the photo, I so understand that there are times when it just isn’t going to work. But the others — particularly the one of the fennel bulbs – are pretty darned good! I can’t seem to take photos of my food while I’m cooking it. Don’t know why, but I always hate the way they come out. So you’re way ahead of me here!

  23. Peter Says:

    Mike, it’s comforting to comeback to sumptuous meat dishes like this. You’re gonna make FLA a carcass capital!

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