Daube Provençale or Beef Stew with Wine
This month’s recipe comes to us from Josette Smyrl who coordinated hotels and meals for ExperiencePlus! trips in France for a number of years. Now retired and living near Aix-en-Provence with her gardening husband Sam, Josette holds a treasure trove of excellent recipes and shares with us occasionally.
A “daube” is a beef stew with wine. Something similar to what is known in the US as a “Beef Burgundy”, but with a Provençal twist! It is a traditional old style recipe that has been used for generations to feed families, and I have used it many times to the delight of my American friends. In fact many years ago (30?) we invited our son Marc’s Political Sciences professor for dinner knowing that he had attended school in Aix en Provence as a student, I decided to cook my “Daube” beef stew for him and his wife. Well, it just so happened that my mother was visiting us at the time and when she learned what the main course would be she was horrified that I would serve such a common meal to important guests.
Well, of course our guests were delighted and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Recently the same couple came and spent a great day with us here in Provence, while visiting this area which they love. Guess what I cooked for dinner? They still loved it and we shared again the touching memories of my dear mother.
2 ½ lbs of stew meat
2 cups red wine (of course you should use a “Côtes du Rhône wine but a good red California Cabernet will do*)
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon mixed “herbes de Provence” (mainly crushed thyme, rosemary, oregano and a bay leaf)
3 to 4 Tbsp olive oil
1 (large) chopped onion
1 strip of orange peel
1 8 oz can of peeled and crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat up oil in heavy (cast iron) casserole. Brown the meat slightly.
Add chopped onion and garlic, stir and cook a few minutes.
Add salt, pepper, herbs and orange peel. Stir well and add the wine.
Keep cooking on high heat until about half the wine has evaporated.
Then add the crushed tomatoes, stir well again and cover tightly.
Simmer on low — or in a 325 degree oven for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.
Serve with boiled potatoes on the side if you wish.
*About the wine: As I said you do not have to use “French” wine but be sure to use a “good” wine. I always like to remind my American friends of one of Julia Child’s favorite quotes: “if it is not good for drinking…it is not good for cooking!”
To make it even more Provençal, some chefs add a dozen black olives and 2 finely chopped anchovy fillets. I’ll leave them optional for two reasons: California olives are very bland compared to Provençal ones and would not add much taste to the stew. Anchovies sometimes turn off American palates, so use your discretion