Kitchen twine, for bouquet garni and tying the veal shanks
3 whole veal shanks (about 1 pound per shank), trimmed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour, for dredging
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small carrot, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Place the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and cloves into cheesecloth and secure with twine. This will be your bouquet garni.
For the veal shanks, pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Veal shanks will brown better when they are dry. Secure the meat to the bone with the kitchen twine. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour, shaking off excess.
In a large Dutch oven pot, heat vegetable oil until smoking. Add tied veal shanks to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.
In the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt at this point to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Return browned shanks to the pan and add the white wine and reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add the bouquet garni and 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Check every 15 minutes, turning shanks and adding more chicken stock as necessary. The level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank.
Carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter. Cut off the kitchen twine and discard.
Remove and discard bouquet garni from the pot.
Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.
For the gravy: Melt the butter, in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour, and cook, whisking, until the flour is smooth and a deep golden brown, about 7 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and simmer until the mixture thickens, whisking to remove any lumps, 4 to 6 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat, cover to keep warm. Reheat before serving, adding water by the tablespoon to thin it, as desired. Stir in the chives right before serving.
For the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Trim the base of the core from the cauliflower and then cut the head into 1-inch-thick slices. Cut any florets that fall off into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper over both sides of each cauliflower slice. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, white pepper, baking powder and 2 teaspoons salt in a shallow bowl. Pour in 3 tablespoons of the milk and use your fingers to work it in, making a shaggy flour mixture. Whisk together the eggs and the remaining milk in another shallow bowl. One at a time, dredge each cauliflower steak, and the 1-inch pieces, in the flour mixture, dip in the egg mixture, and then return to the flour mixture, pressing firmly to coat. Transfer the breaded steaks to a rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
Set another rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Heat about 1-inch of oil in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven over high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Fry the steaks, one at a time, with some of the smaller pieces until golden brown, turning once, about 5 minutes (return the oil to 350 degrees F between each steak). Transfer the finished cauliflower steaks to the rack on the baking sheet, season lightly with salt and keep warm in the oven while you continue frying the remaining cauliflower in batches.
Serve hot with the warm gravy.
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