Thursday, March 20, 2008

Veal Stew and The Other Woman

In keeping with recent news events, the time has come for me to confess some personal failings.

No, I haven't had an affair, I mean I'm not governor of New York for God's sake.

But I am in love with another woman.

She's young, beautiful, vivacious and a wonderful cook. She hosts her own TV show while making countless appearances on other programs. If things weren't bad enough, she's married too. But our love can't be denied. I'm of course speaking of Giada. Giada De Laurentiis, the name tumbles from my lips like her bosom overflowing the top of her blouse.

Have you seen this woman's zabagliones? Of course you have, if you've watched her show for thirty seconds you are intimately familiar with her Dolomites. If the low cut tops weren't enough, have you ever noticed that everything, (and I mean everything), she uses while cooking forces her to lean over and reach across her work surface? I thought a great drinking game would be to have a shot, a double of course, every time Giada leaned forward while on camera. After watching the show a couple of times I realized you'd be in a coma by the first commercial.

Don't get Crabby wrong; I am NOT complaining! I mean really, which Italian Chef would you rather look at, crocs wearing Mario Batali or scoop-necked Giada? I am willing to watch Giada all day, every day. Now, I can hear some of you out there saying, "But Crabby, aren't you happily married to Sea Shell Sal?" Yes I am. I've been in love with SS Sal for 27 years, and if actuarial tables are to believed, I will be in love with her for approximately 27 more. Which is why I'm going to miss her terribly when I run off with Giada.

OK, all joking aside, while Food Network has turned her into the Sophia Loren of the kitchen, Giada is a hell of a cook. SS Sal and I own two of her cookbooks, "Everyday Italian" and "Giada's Family Dinners". Both are fantastic, we've never had a bad meal cooking from either. The recipes are simple and straightforward. They typically only use a few ingredients and she's very willing to employ time and work saving shortcuts. This is what cooking should be; so finish reading this post and then click the Amazon button on this page and buy at least one of these books, (I prefer "Everyday Italian" as a first choice). You'll be cooking from them for a long, long time.

Well, time for a recipe. In tribute to Giada, and in acknowledgement that sex sells, your leader Crabby Cook, will be writing the rest of this post topless. Those who may be offended should skip past this following picture and proceed directly to the recipe.

Veal Stew with Cipollini Onions
(serves 4-6)
from Giada De Laurentiis', "Giada's Family Dinners"

14 cipollini onions
2 Tbsp olive oil
2.5 lb veal stew meat
salt and pepper
1/3 C flour
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 1/4 C dry white wine
2 1/2 C chicken stock
7 or 8 oz can diced tomatoes in their juice
7 small red-skinned potatoes
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 C fresh parsley for garnish

In a pot, boil the unpeeled cipollinis for 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut off the root ends and peel (this is the biggest pain of preparing this meal but worth it, expect to take about 5 minutes to peel the onions). Heat the oil in the stock pot, (preferably a dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the veal with salt and pepper and then coat with flour. Add veal to pot in batches and cook until browned on all sides (about 8 minutes total per batch). Set aside. Add garlic and thyme to the same pot and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the crispy bits after the wine comes to a boil. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half (about 3 minutes). Return the veal to the pot.

Add the broth and tomatoes with juice. Partially cover and simmer on low-medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the onions, potatoes and carrots and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, the sauce will thicken as it cooks. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper and serve in bowls with thick wedges of crusty bread.

This is a bit harder meal to prepare than what we've done to date, but well worth it.

Prep Time: 25-30 minutes
Active Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
Passive Cooking Time: 45 minutes

I love this meal. You could probably try it with beef or lamb instead of veal, though a lot of the subtlety would be lost.

Serve with an Italian Barbera d'Asti; candidates that should be widely available:
Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti $12-$15 (Italy), La Famiglia de Robert Mondavi $18-$20 (California) or Renwood Barbera $20-$25 (California). If you can find it, and it won't be easy outside of the big cities, Poderi Alasia Barbera d'Asti Rive 2005 $25 (Italy), a spectacular example of this type of wine.

Alright crablings, Easter's coming up so I may not post until Sunday or Monday. Enjoy the stew, and just remember, you can do it, you can cook.

P.S. Giada, when you read this, call me babe.


Robina said...

Dear Crabby,
I have a request for those of us that live in the vast wasteland; a land without Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Costco, Plum Market or the like.
When a recipe calls for a delicacy such as cipollini onions, any fresh herb other than parsley (I'm not kidding) or Frenched Pork Roast, could you include possible substitutions that might be found in a rural, redneck, backwoods grocery store? I am willing to drive 30 miles to order cuts of meat (I mean, locally I can get chuck roast or anemic chicken loaded with hormones and antibiotics), but I need a little help on the more esoteric ingredients...
Yours from The North,

Robina said...

ps: After Googling Gaida, I'd have to say, while she doesn't have quite the same effect on me, ya gotta admire those Magiffies - they are pretty spectacular. Stay away from the Tivo..! said...

my first reaction to your grocery problem was: wow, was Ted Kaczynski a noisy neighbor? But back to your problem, buy dried herbs, anything is better than no herbs. As for the cippolini onions. Try using frozen pearl onions. It's not the same, but you're going for the mouth feel of a whole onion as opposed to a diced one. Otherwise try to find some really small onions, and use them whole. If none of that is available, you may want to consider moving.

Jeannebean said...

Belated comment .. we loved the veal stew, but we were having guests who might not eat veal so I veered a bit .. also good when the veal is hard to find. I used good beef filet .. red wine instead of white, beef broth instead of chicken .. outstanding!! Best of all is learning how to deal w/those silly onions - boiled them for 2 minutes & the skins slipped off like magic. Great leftovers!! Especially good for those of us who live in the boonies.
Good job, Crabby. Jeannebean