Slow-Cooker Series: Napolean’s Marengo
By Nasma Haider, Crumbs and Tales
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.
- 1.5 lbs boneless veal, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 5 tablespoons (75 ml) canola oil
- 2 cups (1 large) onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cup (1 large) tomato, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups beef or chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (or use a piece of the orange peel which is 2 inches tall and 1/2 inch wide)
- 15 pearl onions, peeled
- 10-12 white button mushrooms, quartered or cut in half
- 1 cup canned red kidney beans
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon parsley, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
Cut the veal in 1 1/2 inch cubes. Wash the pieces and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the flour in a shallow dish and add to it the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Mix together and add to it the veal cubes and toss to coat. In a large skillet, add the 5 tablespoons of oil and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pieces of veal and cook the pieces for about 2-3 minutes on each side until the meat is browned and caramelized. Transfer the pieces to the slow cooker.
In the same skillet, add the chopped onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent and slightly caramelized. Add the tomato paste and mix to combine. Add the diced tomatoes, thyme and salt and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. (Add 1 additional tablespoon of oil if necessary.) Once the veggies have cooked down a bit, add 1 cup of broth to deglaze the pan. Bring to a boil then add transfer the mixture to the slow cooker over the meat.
Add 2 more cups of broth and the orange zest or peel to the slow cooker and cover the pot. Set the pot to ‘low’ and continue to cook for 5 hours (or ‘high’ and cook for 3 hours). Half an hour before the cooking time is done, set the temperature to ‘high’ and add the mushrooms, pearl onions, kidney beans, 1 teaspoon of salt and some of the parsley. When the slow cooker is done doing its work, turn of the cooker and carefully move the pot straight to the table (be careful as it will be hot!) or transfer the mixture to a large serving dish. Add freshly ground black pepper if desired. Garnish with the remaining parsley. Serve this dish with rice or broad egg noodles.
Troubleshooting: If your mixture has not thickened up very much nearing the end of the cooking process, try this tip: a half hour before the cooking process is complete, in a small pan, create a roux by adding 2 tablespoons of butter and allow to melt. Add 1/8 cup of all-purpose flour and allow the mixture to combine and become paste-like, but not brown. Remove 1 1/2 cups of liquid from the slow cooker (place the lid back on quickly afterwards) and add to the roux. Mix vigorously until the mixture is completely smooth and loose (add more liquid if desired) and return the smooth mixture back to the slow cooker. As the mixture cooks for another 30 minutes, the mixture will thicken up perfectly. Do not attempt to cook off the extra liquid in the pot by removing the lid – you’ll just drop the temperature down quickly and it will not work since the cooker will never bring any mixture to a boil!
For the full step-by-step recipe, visit her blog!
Photo Credit: Nasma Haider
Nasma Haider is the owner of ‘Frost Confection & Cupcake Couture’ (www.FrostConfections.com | www.facebook.com/frostcupcake), a confectionary company which specializes in custom candy tables and dessert bars. After completing a law degree, she went on to continue to channel her love of food by creating gorgeous desserts and gourmet confections for family, friends, and clients.
Inspired by her love of entertaining and penchant for creating beautiful food, she later started a food blog (www.CrumbsandTales.com) to introduce gourmet and everyday recipes to fellow foodies, for which she writes, cooks, styles, and photographs the recipes which she has developed and amassed over the years.