As dictators go, I’m actually a pretty rubbish one, because I keep getting schooled by all kinds of people. The most recent occasion was a completely deserved tongue-lashing by a friend of mine, who’s actually also a chef, so it hurt all the more. But it was totally called for, because I did precisely that which I always tell people not to do: change a traditional recipe and still call it by its traditional name. Turns out this is NOT how you make boeuf bourguignon. You live, you learn, kids. And rather than learning how to make actual boeuf bourguignon, I’ve learned to stick to Italian.
In fact, I’ve got every reason to be cooking Italian comfort food just now, because I recently went to live in the Netherlands again. All in all I’ve taken the whole move quite well, but last weekend, on a particularly hungover morning, I just realised that my Italian friends would be sitting down for a big-ass lunch with friends or family soon, whilst I was going to have a sandwich, because the Dutch just don’t really do lunch, and I was going to have it by myself, because another thing that the Dutch don’t do is invite tonnes of people over for lunch.
So it was up to me! If I wanted to get out of my sulky, hungover mopiness, I had to get up and make my own impressive lunch. So I did, and it was good! This is one of the things I used to eat waaaay back in the days in Genova at da Maria. For the first time ever, I had it all by myself, unfortunately, because people around here just won’t eat stew for lunch, and certainly no veal and aubergine stewed in white wine. But I did, and it made me feel a whole lot better.
For a couple of people, possibly three, get:
- Half a kilo of boneless veal shoulder
- 3 small aubergines
- a small onion
- some beef stock that you’ve got left from last week – about a glassfull
- a glass of white wine
- half a tin of chopped tomatoes
- some oregano
- some olive oil
- salt and pepper
Cut the veal up into twice the size of bite-sized chunks. Chop your onion medium-finely. Heat some olive oil in a heavy pot, gently fry the onion in it, add the veal after about a minute.
Cut you aubergines into chunks slightly larger than the veal. Chuck them in a colander, generously sprinkle them with salt, put a small plate and some weight on to put a bit of pressure on them, and leave them alone until you need them.
Back to the meat. It should be nice and brown now, so add the wine. Leave to simmer for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and the stock. Put the lid on and leave for an hour.
Your aubergine should now be nice and drained – dry them off a little bit with a clean tea towel if you need to. Now add them to the stew. You want to add them later, because otherwise there will be absolutely nothing left of them by the time the meat is done. So there you go, leave the stew so simmer for another 30 minutes or so.