When I think of artichokes, I think of salads and appetizers. And so a recipe by Paola really caught my eye, because she blogged about a stew of veal with artichokes, a dish from Genova called Spezzatino con i carciofi. A stew is called stufato in Italian, but when the meat is cut into pieces it is called spezzatino. As with all Italian recipes there are many versions of this dish. I’ve stayed pretty close to Paola’s recipe, but I used sage instead of parsley because that is what I had on hand, and of course I could not resist to cook everything sous-vide. It turned out great and what is nice about this recipe prepared sous-vide is that the only thing needed to serve it, is to open the bag and put the food on a plate. So I prepared everything on Sunday and then refrigerated it, and all I did Monday morning before leaving for work was to turn on my sous-vide at 55C/131F and put the bag in the water. When I came home after work, it was ready to be served and on the table in 1 minute.
I used free range veal to make this, which is more flavorful and not as white as caged veal. In this photo I have cut into the veal, so you can see how nicely pink it is all the way through because it has been cooked sous-vide. The veal also stays very juicy this way. More juice still in the meat means less juices for the sauce, so next time I make this I will add some veal stock to have more sauce. I have already included this addition in the recipe below.
When you prepare this dish the traditional way without sous-vide, everything is cooked at a temperature of about 90C/195F. This means that the veal will become well done with a grey color and a lot less juicy. When cooked sous-vide, the vegetables are first cooked at 84C/183F while the meat is browned and the sauce is prepared with the meat drippings in the pan. Then everything is combined and cooked for 8 to 12 hours at 55C/131F. The meat will be cooked by that step, while the vegetables do not cook any further because the temperature is too low. During the low and slow cook, the flavors are allowed to marry.
We both really enjoyed this new way of eating artichokes and I will definitely make this again. Paola, ti ringrazio di nuovo per suggerirmi un nuovo piatto da provare!
For 2 servings
300 grams (.66 lb) cubed stewing veal, I used the part that is called blade steak or flat iron steak in beef
3 or 4 large artichokes
500 grams (1.1 lb) potatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage (or parsley)
1 onion, chopped
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
120 ml (1/2 cup) veal stock, optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a slice of lemon for the artichokes
Season the veal cubes on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and brown the veal over high heat…
…until it is nicely browned on all sides. Then take it out of the pan and set aside on a plate to cool. You only want to brown the outside, the inside should stay raw.
Add a chopped onion to the oil that reminds in the pan and season with salt.
Cook over low to medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft and golden (not crispy), about 10 minutes.
Add minced sage (or parsley) and garlic, and stir for a minute.
Deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine, and scrape with a wooden spatula to get all the nice browned bits that are stuck to the pan into the sauce.
This is when you add the veal stock, if using. Simmer the sauce over medium heat until reduced by about half. Remember that no more evaporation is going to happen while you finish cooking everything sous-vide, so the sauce should already have the right thickness. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Don’t forget to add any juices that leak from the meat to the sauce.
While you are making the sauce, peel the potatoes and cut them into 3 cm (1 inch) chunks. Season them with salt and vacuum seal.
Clean the artichokes. (Click here to find out how.) Cut them into quarters, remove the ‘hay’ that is inside, and put them in a bowl with cold water in which you have squeezed a slice of lemon to prevent the artichokes from turning brown.
Don’t forget the stalks of the artichokes: the thick fibrous green outer part has to be removed, but the white inner part is tender and delicious.
Drain the artichokes, season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and vacuum seal them as well.
Cook the vegetables sous-vide at 84C/183F. The artichokes for 1 hour and the potatoes for 90 minutes.
If you are using a ziploc bag, you can just mix the meat, vegetables, and sauce, and close the bag with as little air as possible using the water displacement method.
If you are vacuum sealing, allow everything to cool down to refrigerator temperature before mixing the meat, vegetables, and sauce, and vacuum sealing them together. You could do a better job of mixing than I did (as shown in the photo).
Cook this sous-vide for 8 to 12 hours at 55C/131F.
The stew can be served directly from the bag. It is best to preheat the plates before serving, as the food will be served at only 55C/131F and would otherwise cool off too quickly. You could also, very briefly, heat the stew some more in a non-stick frying pan before serving. This has to be done briefly, as otherwise you would overcook the meat after all.
Cold smoking is a technique that preserves food (and gives it a wonderful smoky flavor and aroma) just by smoke, without heat. To get a really nice smoky aroma, it is best to cold smoke for 24 hours. Halibut is a great fish for this technique.