23 September 2012

Slow cooker braised British Rose Veal - such a treat!

Do you remember, all those months ago when Farmers Choice Ltd kindly sent me some British Rose Veal to play with?

British Rose Veal is a guilt-free, ethically raised alternative to continental veal.  With continental veal, the poor calves are raised in veal crates which leave them very little space to move and they are pretty much force fed on milk so as to retain the white colour of their meat.  It is a hateful way of producing meat and not something that I would ever endorse.  So please - don't be tempted to buy veal if you don't know where it came from.  British Rose Veal is another kettle of baby cow altogether.  British Rose Veal calves are allowed room to play, run and lay down.  They are kept in "gangs" of several calves, so they always have pals and company.  They spend a certain amount of time at grass, before being brought in to big strawed pens under cover, where they finish out their time before slaughter.  As a means of providing dairy calves with something of a life, rather than immediate slaughter, I find it to be infinitely preferable to the horrible waste that currently goes on where dairy calves are concerned.  We just need the consumer to take up British Rose Veal in numbers enough to make it viable for dairy producers to do, as currently the price of British Rose Veal can be a little high.

Well, I've still got the escalopes to work with yet, but a little while ago decided to braise the roasting joint in the slow cooker.

I had been tossing various ideas around with regard to what I should do with this roasting joint.  Yes, I could have just plain old roasted it in the oven but for some reason I just didn't fancy doing that.  I suppose it all comes back to my abiding love for comfort food - and braising is just that notch above roasting, in the comfort food stakes!

The important thing with braising this piece of veal, I felt, was to retain its veal flavour.  I didn't want to use very strong flavours that might have overpowered the delicate flavour of the veal, so was very careful about what I put with it.  This is why I used vegetable stock instead of beef.  I felt that vegetable stock was a suitably "blank sheet" upon which to build the veal flavours.

A stroke of brilliance was to use one of Knorr's herb infusion stock pots along with the vegetable one.  These herb infusion stock pots will bring the lovely flavours of bay, parsley and thyme, without your having to go fishing for the bay leaves or have millions of tiny thyme leaves floating about in your gravy.  I felt that it complemented the gentle flavours of the veal really well.

The aromas issuing from the slow cooker as it did its work were just amazing.  There's something of the tease about a slow cooker, don't you think?  You spend all day sniffing up the deliciously changing aromas as the contents cook, knowing that there's no point to your having either a sneaky spoonful because a) it won't be cooked and b) you'll lose a great deal of the heat - and so it'll take longer to cook.

I would often use the slow cooker when I worked and had horses.  It was perfect, considering how little time I had to cook, but I'd feel so sorry for the poor dogs who had to share space in the flat with it all day!  Imagine what a tease it must be for them - as they have much greater capacity for appreciating a lovely smell than we do.  I always made sure to put the cooker up high, with that in mind.  Wouldn't have done to have come home to a burning slow cooker and no dinner - or worse.

At the end of the cooking time, the veal was literally "falling apart tender".  It looked quite dry on the outside edge, but that was misleading as inside was succulent and gorgeous.  The outside edge had made something of a crust which contained such fabulous flavour, it was just divine.  Not beefy, not porky - just a very gentle, slightly earthy, sweet flavoured meat.

There was plenty left over from the joint, too.  I had intended to make a pie with it, but temptation got the better of me and I'm afraid it disappeared into several simply amazing British Rose Veal sandwiches!


Ingredients :

1kg piece of roasting British Rose veal
1 carrot, cut into pieces
1 onion, quartered
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 celery sticks, washed and cut into pieces
a large bunch of parsley
400-700ml vegetable stock (depending on size of your slow cooker)
a Knorr Herb Infusions Stock Pot
a pinch of salt and a good quantity of black pepper
2 tbsp plain flour.

Method :

1.  Heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot, then seal the veal on all sides.  Leave the veal in place on each side, so as to gain a good colour on the meat and fat as this colour equates to flavour.

2.  Place the meat into the slow cooker and replace the lid.

3.  Add the stock and the contents of the herb infusions stock pot to the frying pan and heat through, stirring, to de-glaze the pan of all the veal flavours.

4.  Add the vegetables, herbs and seasoning to the slow cooker, replace the lid and cook on high for 4-5 hours.

5.  At the end of the cooking time, remove the meat from the slow cooker to a warmed plate, cover with silver foil and leave to rest in a warm place while you make the gravy.  Increase the slow cooker's heat to maximum.

6.  In a small bowl, place the flour and moisten it with a little cold water until a fluid paste texture is achieved.

7.  Using a slotted spoon, remove all the vegetables except the carrot and discard.

8.  Using a potato masher, mash the carrot until it has thickened the gravy a little.

9.  Pour the flour mixture into the slow cooker, stirring all the time.  The gravy should thicken almost instantly, but replace the lid and give the gravy 5-10 minutes for the flour to cook.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

10.  Carve the meat and serve with roast potatoes, vegetables and the lovely gravy.

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