The autumn is really starting to set in. I notice it in the trees that are changing colors, in the crisp chill in the air and definitely in the way I want to cook and eat. Out go the light, wussy salads and in come the heavy boys! Oh yes, this is a beautiful season, but also a dangerous one. All those gorgeous, thick soups and hearty stews! Well, as you probably know by now, I like to live on the edge. So bring on those comfortingly calorific meals!
Today's dish is a rich stew from the south of France. It is one of those French recipes that everyone makes in their own way and everyone is always so inclined as to claim that theirs is best. Me being no exception.
The stew gets its name from the pot it was originally cooked in, the daubière, a deep, round earthenware beauty which I am ashamed to say, I do not own yet. Instead, I make my daube in my much-loved, red Le Creuset casserole. So if you don't have a daubière yet (or a Le Creuset), don't let that stop you from making this rich, succulent stew. Any heavy-bottomed casserole will do just fine.
Some cooks will marinate the meat over night and if I have time (or remember), I will usually do the same. Truth be told though, unless I'm planning this for a dinner party, I rarely remember to marinate the meat. If the urge for this dish hits, the meat will have to do with just a few hours of marinating time, and honestly, it works just fine.
My version has the rind of a tangelo, which I find adds more depth and sweetness than that of an orange. I also add in a can of chopped tomatoes to give the stew more body and flavor, and my own garden-picked bouquet garni (rosemary, thyme and bay leaf).
Serve this rustic, French dish with a good loaf of bread, some fluffy mashed potatoes or maybe even some hot, buttered noodles. I like to serve the dish with the same wine I used in the recipe, in this case, the spicy Côtes du Rhône Villages by Louis Bernard.
Daube de Boeuf
500g beef chuck, in large chunks
mild olive oil, to brown the meat, plus 1 tbsp for the marinade
bouquet garni (I used rosemary, thyme and bay leaf)
a piece of tangelo rind
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
300 ml red wine
sea salt and freshly-ground pepper
2 tbsps flour, seasoned with a little salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
a can of chopped tomatoes
a good handful of black olives
Combine the beef, tbsp of olive oil, bouquet garni, tangelo rind, carrots, onion, red wine and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Cover and martinate for at least three hours. More is not a problem. Overnight is even better! When you are ready to cook, remove the beef cubes from the marinade and dry them off with paper towel. Coat them with the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.
Cook the lardons in a large, dry frying pan for about three minutes. Remove them and add to the pan you will be using to cook the stew. Without cleaning the frying pan, add some olive oil and start frying the beef cubes in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan and adding them to the pan with the bacon as you go. Once your beef is browned, add the marinade to the frying pan and let it bubble for a minute or two, scraping up any brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the marinade to the meat and bacon along with the chopped tomatoes and the garlic. Season with a little more salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat, cover and gently cook for 3 hours. At the end of the cooking time, add in your olives and cook for another five minutes. Enjoy!