Beef daube

preparation time: 30 minutes
cooking time: at least 2 1/2 hours
emergency contact: stéphane

The provençale contribution to the canon of beef stews. Unless you own a daubière, this recipe won’t technically produce a daube, but a Dutch oven or any other heavy ovenproof pot works just fine. This can be cooked and eaten on the same day, but is much better if it is left to cool overnight and reheated gently the next day. It’s not worth making a daube in quantities smaller than this; in fact, multiplying these quantities by 1.5 for a 6-serving pot is really much more sensible as it keeps well (and, like all stews, improves) over three or four days and can be frozen for a few months. If you’re not a fan of the texture of frozen-then-thawed carrots, just remove the carrot chunks first.

stewing beef – 1 kg (e.g., boneless shank, chuck)
bacon – equiv 3 thick slices cut into lardons
onion – 2 medium, quartered and sliced
celery – 3 stalks, diced
carrot – 3 in chunks
parsnips – 3 in chunks
shallot – 3 thinly sliced
cognac or other brandy – 1/3 cup
red wine – 2 c (fruity works well)
beef broth – 2 c
herbes de Provence mix
laurel – 2 leaves
olive oil
freshly ground pepper
flat-leafed parsley – 4 Tbsp, chopped

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

Trim beef of fat and sinews and cut into good sized cubes, slightly larger than you feel reasonable. Dry the beef with paper towels.

In a Dutch oven, brown the lardons over medium heat, then transfer to a plate. Add about 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the bacon fat, turn the heat up to medium high, and brown the beef in batches. Don’t crowd! Remove the beef chunks to the plate with the lardons and season with salt and pepper.

Put the onions and shallots in the pot, season lightly with salt and pepper, add more olive oil if necessary, and cook until golden and soft (about 8 minutes). Add celery, carrots and parsnips and give everything a good jostle to make sure the vegetables are covered with oil. Pour in the brandy and stir well to loosen the nice brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Return the bacon and beef to the pot. Pour in the wine and broth, and add some water if there is not enough liquid to cover the ingredients. Sprinkle in a generous spoonful of herbes de Provence. Give it all another good stir. When the liquid comes to a boil, place the laurel leaves on top, cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and cover with the lid. Slide the pot into the oven and braise undisturbed for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the pot from the oven, uncover and stir gently. In the unlikely event that the liquid has reduced greatly, top up with boiling water to cover the chunks. Re-cover the pot with foil and the lid and return to the oven for another 1 1/2 hours. If you are eating the daube the same day and the meat is not yet tender, braise it for another 1/2 hour. Otherwise, let the daube cool and refrigerate overnight.

At serving time, skim any fat from the top, reheat and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the daube out into shallow soup bowls with your accompaniment of choice – Dorie likes mashed potatoes or celery root purée, Hugh is a fan of potatoes in any form or macaroni stirred directly into the stew. Spaetzle (see below) also works well.

Serves 4.

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