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Jim said it best: “Irish Coffee Day? On Rabbie Burns Day?”
Clearly someone wasn’t paying attention. On Friday night, in celebration of Rabbie Burns Day, Jim and I and a couple of good friends went to a Burns Supper. The haggis was piped in, and then the MC recited the Address to a Haggis (very energetically, I might add). Eventually one of the wee fat beasties was brought to our table, where it was dispatched with a Sgian Dubh* (after a worthy struggle) then passed around with some gravy.
Now. Many of you will have read about my aversion to four-legged meat. But I couldn’t be at a Rabbie Burns / haggis celebration without partaking of a bite. So I tried a nibble from Jim’s plate. It… wasn’t disgusting. Better than the slice of rear loin that Jim made me try at a family pig roast a few years back. Since I didn’t die of it, I challenge the rest of you to try some today, on Rabbie Burns day, and to heck with Irish Coffee.
That, and I’m on this crazy diet for 2 weeks and can’t have any alcohol, so I’m waving my magic wand / cashing in a wild card and celebrating National Slow Cooker Month instead.
Speaking of four-legged meat.
Jim really, really likes veal saltimbocca.** He makes the Mario Batali version (Molto Italiano, p. 357) and always overestimates the amount of veal he actually needs. Meat can only float around the freezer for so long before it should be ditched, and I’ve been eyeballing the leftover veal (scaloppini cut) for a couple of months now. It was a chilly day and we were doing a lot of house work… what a perfect day for slow cooker veal “bourguignon”.
I turned to my friend (at least in my mind, anyway) Anthony Bourdain (Les Halles Cookbook, pp. 202-203). Then I completely bastardized his perfect (non-slow-cooker) recipe and made it my own (so don’t blame Tony; it’s not his fault). Without further ado:
Slow Cooker Veal “Bourguignon”
- 1.5 lbs veal (or beef), cut into chunks (just slightly larger than bite-sized) (I used a scaloppini cut, but would recommend a thicker piece)
- salt and pepper
- ¼ C bacon drippings, or a combination of drippings and olive oil, or just olive oil (no one pretends bourguignon is supremely healthy. Jim made bacon for breakfast, so I asked him to just leave the drippings in the pan. In the end I had to add a little olive oil)
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 2 T unbleached flour
- 1 C red wine (Tony calls for “red Burgundy”. I used “leftover red”, which I keep in the fridge after parties)
- 1 slice cooked bacon, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 sliced carrots
- 1 bay leaf
- a pinch of dried thyme leaves
- one batch smashed potatoes (I like new potatoes, with the skin left on)
- Season veal with salt and pepper.
- Heat bacon drippings / olive oil in a cast iron pan (or heavy pan) over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Sear veal, a few chunks at a time, until the outside is browned (not grey). As each batch of veal is done, deposit directly into the slow-cooker.
- Add sliced onions to the leftover drippings and cook until browned and softened, but not to the point of “caramelized onions”. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple more minutes.
- While the onions are cooking, top the veal with the bacon, carrots, bay and thyme.
- Add the wine to the onions and deglaze the pan. Make sure you scrape up the browned bits from the bottom.
- Add the onions to the slow cooker.
- Top with enough water to just cover the veal. Poke with a spoon a few times to mix ingredients.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent the flour from clumping.
- Serve over smashed potatoes.
Jim said it was the best “stew” I’ve ever made. Since I’ve only made “stew” once before, I have to wonder (as Diana pointed out), was he lying about my first stew?
P.S. I made laksa for my dinner (mmmm). I’ll tell you about that another time.
* My friend Colin, who is as Scottish as they come, tells me “Sgian Dubh” is pronounced “skeen-doo”, like “skidoo” only with an “n”.
** Don’t talk to me about veal. I know. I don’t eat four-legged animals, remember? Feel free to use the “comments” section to yell at Jim, though. I’ll pass it on. Nonetheless, I think throwing away veal is an even worse crime than buying it in the first place – then the poor thing suffered and died for nothing.