Ground veal is a type of beef made from calf meat rather than from fully-grown cattle meat. It is known for its tender texture, mild flavor, and low amounts of saturated fat. Just as with other veal cuts, the meat for ground veal comes only from the meat of male calves that have normally been bred on dairy farms. Trimmings from larger cuts of veal are usually placed in a grinder and formed into veal patties before packaging, freezing, and shipping. The meat is a staple ingredient in popular veal dishes such as meat loaf, veal Bolognese, and veal tourtiere.
Since male dairy calves are unable to produce milk or bear more calves, they are often designated for veal butchering as the most cost-effective option for dairy farmers. Standard veal calves are raised until they are about 16 weeks old before this process takes place. Just as with other kinds of ground meat, batches of minced veal can contain meat from the edges of various sections of the animal such as the flanks or short loins.
Many cooks like using ground veal because it is a lean meat that still has a good amount of flavoring. Although some recipes may call for veal to be tenderized with a kitchen mallet, this step can be overdone rather easily. Most good quality veal patties can be thinned out by hand as long as they are thawed completely. As with any type of ground meat, veal generally needs to be frozen if the cook does not plan on cooking it soon after purchase. Veal can be thawed safely in a microwave, in cold water, or in the refrigerator overnight.
Some of the simplest and most popular dishes with ground veal include veal meatballs and veal meatloaf. Many cooks mix small amounts of veal in with ground chicken or ground turkey to make healthier meatballs that still have a rich taste. Veal meatballs are usually served over pasta with marinara sauce, or they can also be served alone as an appetizer dish. Veal meatloaf is often prepared by mixing a larger volume of veal with ground beef and a variety of seasonings before baking it in the oven.
Another popular veal dish is veal Bolognese, which consists of crumbled ground veal that has been browned in a skillet with fresh garlic and onions. It is then mixed with tomato sauce before being poured over pasta. Veal tourtiere is a dish consisting of cooked ground veal inside a baked pie shell.