It's the thought that counts (French Fridays with Dorie: "Not Veal" Marengo)

Following directions is highly overrated.

I am pretty sure that I am hard-wired to not follow them.

It is unclear to me how this became a part of my being. I am a rule follower by nature.

But its been like this as long as I can remember - much to the consternation of my mother. (But she loves me in spite of this, right Mom?)

This week's French Fridays recipe has been on my dread list since...forever. This was based purely on the title and the premise of the star ingredient - veal. 

Once I figured out the recipe could handle some substitutions (thank you, Mardi for the stew suggestion), I realized the recipe wasn't as dreadful as I had originally thought. 

Although beef braises aren't my favorite thing (I can take them or leave them), the thought of butter glazed baby onions and sauteed mushrooms total piqued my interest. And...who can resist soft baby potatoes. Beef braised in white wine and tomatoes wasn't anything to turn one's nose up at either...

Other than the meat substitution, I mostly followed the directions for making this dish.

In other news, spring is only a week away. At least on the calendar (if not in my backyard). 

After a brutal February, March is finally bringing some temperature relief up here in the frozen North - heck the thermometer even found the 40F mark yesterday. (We all shed our coats and soaked in the relative warmth). I am so antsy for spring. 

Stupid groundhog...

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie. The recipe for veal (or beef) Marengo can be found here.


  1. Yay I am glad I could save you from the dread! Looks great!

  2. Looks terrific, Cher! And LOVE your pan!!!

  3. Lovely backdrop for your presentation, this was good wasn't it?

  4. Looks great, Cher! As for rules, here's what I figure: knowing which directions can be gotten around and how to do so is a skill (same with bending rules). Also, for me at least, I'm a rule-follower, but I like to rebel every now and then. Anytime I create a schedule for writing or something that doesn't make me beholden to others, I won't follow it. Just because I don't have to. So weird, but there it is. Happy weekend and I'll continue to send warm, but not hot weather thoughts your way.

  5. I internalized the 60's motto "Question Authority" I follow laws, but rules only if they make sense... and recipes only if they are easy or actually add flavor. I think a lot of directions in these recipes got from people are their own person quirks and really don't add anything but time to the cooking. So, I am with you girl!

  6. Hope your backyard catches up with the calendar soon. If not, I sugest groundhog marengo next time.

  7. I agree, the veggies in butter were pretty good, especially the potatoes.
    Tricia supplied me with the little ones, (which I refuse to buy because I am cheap," why can't you cut a big potato" ) and now Hubby loves them
    and wants only these cute little morsels. Complaints, asides, I can't believe
    we are almost to the end of this fantastic journey. We have a lot of catching up to do, hopefully we will make it.

  8. Cher, your presentation in your beautiful pot and in the snow is absolutely wonderful - we followed the winter weather in the US and Canada through the news . from what we heard and saw, it has been an unusually cold and harsh winter - this lovely stew o yours must have hit the spot on a cold and wintry day!
    Have a nice weeekend with warmer weather conditions perhaps,

  9. Cher, I thought there were a few fussy parts of this recipe, which I eliminated. I could not understand why I had to cook the mushrooms, and small onions separately! Since Bill is again on South Beach…I subbed carrots for the potatoes. We actually loved this dish, and even though I very rarely eat veal…I would have liked to try it in this dish!

    Your presentation and photos of this dish are lovely! I also love that pot!
    Hope you’re enjoying Florida!! :)

  10. This really looks great Cher. I'm setting out to make this today so the advice is encouraging.

  11. What I am happiest to hear is that there might be a thaw in sight for you Easterners. I try not to think about your Winter. You did a great job with this stew, good substitution (me, too, I followed Mardi's lead) and a yummy result. I actually doubled up on the butter (which I usually do except for baking) which made those veggies even more glazed, caramelized and delicious. One of the best things about joining this FFWD group is that I've learned over time to "wing it" and that the world will not end if I don't follow a recipe absolutely. Which makes cooking more fun, Remember how rigidly I followed recipes? incidentally. I think you led the band on that and I appreciate it.

  12. Beautiful cookware, Cher, and your stew looks delicious! My mother always taught me to make the recipe exactly the first time and then experiment away thereafter. But, if you already know that an ingredient or technique doesn't work for you, why not go with something you know you'll like better?

  13. LOL - you are the queen of substitution, and you did well here. I am a sucker for a stew, so I looked forward to this. Brrr, no idea how you guys cope with the cold. I'd be a California or Florida girl because of the winters.

  14. Wow you took your dinner out in the snow, nice picture. I wish I had not followed the directions on this one. Too much fuss and too many dishes. Live and learn.

  15. Funny, I was looking forward to this dish, veal and all! I'm a rule follower and a directions follower. But I'm also smart enough to know which rules (or directions) can be broken or unfollowed. Substituting beef for the veal seems like a reasonable change to the directions and I'm sure it was good.

  16. I'm like Karen, a rule follower and a directions follower, most of the time. I subbed pork for the veal and that was good too. Loved the vegetables. I know it's easier to throw them all in the pot, as some Doristas did, but I loved the butter glazing.

  17. I am a total rules follower, but I'm trying to get better at seeing recipes as guidelines. I always love reading your interpretations of the recipes we make.


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