Skip to Content

French Tête de Veau Recipe

French Tête de Veau Recipe

Tête de Veau is a dish made with a calf’s head which is slowly cooked in a broth flavored with aromatics and vegetables, accompanied by gribiche sauce with hard-boiled eggs and herbs.

Tête de Veau is widely popular in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and is usually enjoyed during the holidays. It is generally not very expensive and is easy to cook at home.

The practice of eating the head of an animal is common in other parts of the world, including in Norway where the dish Smalahove uses the whole head of a sheep.

Origin & Cultural Significance

A typical dish of the French soil, Tête de Veaus traditionally eaten on January 21. It is one of the ways in which the sans-culottes commemorate the beheading of Louis XVI and the fall of the absolute monarchy by divine right during the French Revolution.

Originally, the Tête de Veau was made from pigs. However, after the establishment of the Second Republic in 1848 which led to the ban on a Parisian banquet, the calf’s head replaced the traditional stuffed pig’s head. Since the middle of the 19th century, there have been banquets on January 21 everywhere in France where this dish is enjoyed in groups. 

Tête de Veau

French Tête de Veau Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes



  • Calf's Head - 1kg
  • Carrot - 1
  • Onion - 1
  • Garlic Cloves - 2
  • Wine vinegar
  • Bouquet Garni (parsley, thyme, bay leaf)
  • Flour - 1 tbsp
  • Coarse Salt - 1 tbsp
  • Pepper


  • Eggs - 2
  • Shallots (small) - 6
  • Pickles - 4-5
  • Capers - 2 tbsp
  • Mustard - 2 tbsp
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Wine Vinegar
  • Sprigs of Parsley - 2
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Start by peeling the carrot and slicing it into pieces that are neither too thin nor too thick. Peel the onion and finely chop it into rings. Finally, peel and crush garlic cloves.
  2. Place the boneless and rolled calf's head in a casserole dish, then cover it completely with water.
  3. Add carrots, onion, garlic, vinegar and bouquet garni. Sprinkle it with coarse salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Mix the flour in a little water and add to the casserole dish. Bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for about 2 hours on low heat.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the recipe for the gribiche sauce. Take hard-boiled eggs, shell them, crush the yolks on one side and chop the white on the other side. Peel the shallots and chop them finely. Cut the pickles into thin slices.
  6. In a bowl, add the mustard and the rest of the vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste, then beat everything and gradually add the oil.
  7. Then add the egg yolks, shallots, parsley, capers, pickles and egg whites to the mix and combine.
  8. At the end of cooking, drain the calf's head, cut it into slices and place it on a hot dish. Serve hot, topped with gribiche sauce and decorated with capers and half lemon slices.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 289Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 23g

Photo credit: Arnaud 25

Share on Social:

Skip to Recipe