The slow cooker, the Crock-pot™, the easy peasy dinner solution! Call it what you will, this one-pot kitchen tool is the answer to your dinner-time dilemmas! If you’re pressed for time or up to your eyeballs with work and trying to juggle parenthood with work and the minutae of daily life, you’ll want to read on!
Most stews and saucy meat dishes can be adapted to use in a slow cooker which will allow you to cook the dish at a low temperature over a couple of hours. Imagine that: food can be set to slow-cook before leaving for the day or while you work at home, and will be ready on return or whenever your family is ready for dinner. The great thing about slow cookers is that you don’t have to slave over a hot stove and you never have to stir the dish as it cooks. Finally, even if you’re using a cheaper cut of meat which has lots of connective tissue, it will break down and become completely tender.
I’m going off on a slow cooker tangent here so let me reel it in and focus on this delicious dish! So without boring you with the full history of this dish, according to food lore, this dish was created by Napolean’s chef who was forced to forage for food and improvise with ingredients such as meat, crayfish, eggs, oranges, tomatoes, and garlic to create a dish to feed the troops following Napolean’s defeat of the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo. Napoleon later associated this dish with his army’s good luck and insisted on being served this dish following each battle.
I’m sure the Emporer is turning over in his grave as I write this, but I can safely say that we’ve successfully bastardized his original recipe to omit the crayfish and cooked egg and added pearl tomatoes, onions and even red kidney beans! However, I have stuck to tradition by keeping the orange peel. Over the years, this recipe has been modified to no end with the addition of ingredients such a kalamata olives, mushrooms and more. When I first tried this recipe, I followed Julia Child’s recipe almost to a tee and then, in true form, I made all sorts of little changes to make the recipe my own, with all due respect to Julia.
This recipe is beyond easy, with non-threatening ingredients and very little prep time. You can even do the prep the night before and place it in the fridge. The next morning, before heading off to work or to drop the kids off at school, simply place everything in the pot and turn it on. The end result of this will find you face to pot with a delicious flavourful dish that is studded with tender pieces of veal, mushrooms, pearl onions in a delicious flavourful broth. You can serve it topped over rice or broad egg noodles (my preference) or it can be eaten just as a stew.