Switzerland's international culinary reputation rests largely on its cheeses and cheese dishes. But anyone who has been to Switzerland knows that the country is also famous for dishes made with veal. The Swiss know how to prepare and serve veal to perfection, and any traveler who visits the country would find it well worth the effort to try not just one but several of the veal dishes on most menus.
One of the best-known of the Swiss veal dishes is served in several variations in different parts of the country. Found in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, it is Zurich's Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch. It is thin strips of veal carefully sauteed in a cream sauce. It is also made in the Suisse- Romande region, where it is called Emince de Veau.
Sometimes calves liver is substituted for veal and the dish is called Lebergeschnetzeltes. When chicken is cooked in the same style it is called Emince de Volaille.
These and other traditional Swiss dishes are found at their best in four of Zurich's famous historic medieval guild buildings, now superb restaurants.
One of these, the Guildhouse zur Schmiden, is more than 550 years old and was once the blacksmith's guild. Another Guildhouse zur Saffran, was the merchants and spice dealers guild hall.
The Kronenhalle, more than a century old, has a very special atmosphere with paintings by Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Matisse, and Giacometti.
The fourth, where I enjoyed a superb veal dish, is Haus zum Ruden. Typical in its medieval architecture with a huge Gothic wooden ceiling, the restaurant has an excellent selection of traditional Swiss dishes including the town's veal specialty.
Listed on the menu as L'Emince de Veau a la Zurichoise Rosti, it is the veal dish of Zurich, served with Rosti, a traditional golden potato cake.
Other veal dishes on the menu were veal scallops served with green noodles; veal steak with mushrooms in a cream sauce; veal kidneys, southern France style; minced veal liver, and more.
I had the veal with mushrooms, tender and creamy, a luxurious dish, perfectly prepared, but not heavy. The menu is complete with elegant appetizers, soups, fish, and grilled meats. The service, as all over Switzerland, is impeccable.
At these restaurants there is always a good selection of excellent Swiss cheeses and a fine selection of pastries and desserts from fresh strawberries flown from Israel with ice cream or whipped cream, to peaches and pears and Souffle Glace.
Here are some recipes that will allow you to enjoy some of the cuisine of Switzerland. Veal with Mushroom Cream Sauce 1 pound veal scallops 1/2 cup flour 1/4 cup clarified butter or half oil and half butter 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots or scallions 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced 1/2 cup heavy cream Salt, pepper, and paprika to taste 1/2 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped Minced parsley for garnish
Cut veal into julienne strips, 1/4 inch thick, about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle with flour. Melt butter or oil in heavy skillet and when foam subsides, drop in half the veal strips and saute, stirring constantly with a fork for about 2 to 5 minutes, until golden. Remove veal to a serving dish and keep warm. Cook remaining meat the same way.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to skillet and saute shallots until soft, about 2 minutes, then add mushrooms and saute mixture about 2 minutes more.
Add 1/2 cup cream and seasonings to taste and cook mixture over medium heat until it thickens slightly. Fold in lightly whipped cream and pour sauce over veal. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 4. Veal Cordon Bleu 4 veal scallops, about 4 ounces each 2 eggs 2 tablespoons milk 1/2 cup flour 1/4 pound Swiss Gruyere cheese 4 slices boiled ham, about 3 inches square, 1/8 inch thick 4 tablespoons butter 1 cup vegetable oil 4 thin lemon slices Paprika Bread crumbs
Veal scallops should be about 3/8 of an inch thick and pounded about 1/4 inch thick. Lightly beat eggs with milk, then brush each scallop on one side with the mixture, then sprinkle lightly with flour.
Cut cheese into 4 strips, each 3 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1/4 inch thick. Slice ham 1/8 inch thick and about 3 inches square. Wrap each strip of cheese in a slice of ham and place lengthwise in the center of the coated side of a scallop. Fold scallop in half lengthwise to make a 6-inch long packet enclosing ham and cheese completely. Press edges firmly together to seal tightly.
One at a time coat scallops with remaining flour and shake or brush off excess. Dip first in remaining egg mixture, then in bread crumbs, thoroughly coating with crumbs. Place scallops side by side on plate or wax paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
In a heavy 12-inch skillet, melt butter and oil over moderate heat until foam subsides. Add scallops, turning occasionally with tongs or slotted spoon and fry for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp on both sides.
Drain on paper towels and serve at once from a heated platter. Top each scallop with a slice of lemon sprinkled lightly with paprika. Onion and Cheese Tart 1 9-inch pastry shell 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped 1/8 teaspoon paprika 1/4 pound Swiss Gruyere cheese, about 1 cup, coarsely grated 1/4 pound Swiss Emmentaler cheese, about 1 cup, coarsely grated 2 eggs 1/2 cup light cream 1/2 cup milk 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Bake pastry shell at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a heavy 6 to 8-inch skillet, heat oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Add onions and, stirring frequently, cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and transparent but not brown. Watch carefully for any sign of burning and regulate heat accordingly. Stir in paprika and set aside off heat.
Place cheeses in a bowl and toss together until they are thoroughly combined. Spread half of cheeses evenly in baked pastry shell and scatter onions over it. Then cover with remaining cheese. Beat eggs, cream, milk, salt and nutmeg together with a wire whisk, and pour mixture slowly and evenly over cheese.
Bake in upper third of oven for 10 minutes, then increase heat to 425 degrees F. and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until filling has puffed and browned and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.Serve hot or at room temperature as a first or main course. Rosti (Shredded Potato Cake) 4 medium baking potatoes 1 teaspoon salt 8 tablespoons butter
Boil unpeeled potatoes about 15 minutes, drain and chill thoroughly. Peel, then grate into long, thin strips on the tear- shaped large holes of a four-sided stand-up grater. (Left-over baked potatoes also make good rosti.) Sprinkle with salt.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in frying pan and cover the bottom of the pan with about 1/4 of the grated potato. In this way you will make four flat, crisp potato cakes, much easier to handle than one large one.
Stir until potatoes are coated with butter, then press down flat with a spatula and saute until crisp and golden brown. Turn over and saute the other side.
Rosti potatoes are often made with onions or bacon. Saute 1/2 cup finely chopped onions in 3 tablespoons of butter until soft and transparent and add to shredded potatoes. Or fry 1/2 cup finely diced bacon until crisp, drain and mix with potatoes before frying.