Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Daube de Boeuf A La Provencal For A Cold Snowy Night

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I served this daube the night before I left for a visit to Madame Mere's. I made plenty so I could freeze a couple of dinners for my daughter, my excuse to ensure that she would have at least a couple of home cooked meals while I was gone.  The cooking didn't end there.  Once I got to the other end,  I began to cook and freeze like crazy so MM would have a few of her favorite meals  to enjoy when I left.  It is easy to cook for her these days.  She is so appreciative of everything I make her, particularly if it is one of her old recipes.  She doesn't cook anymore and her meals are very basic these days.  Nothing like the old Madame Mere and it makes me sad.  But more on that on another post.

One of the things I did not expect on my return was to find a container of beef daube still in the freezer.  I have been on a cooking strike since I returned so, instead of being hurt,  I was elated.  It is perfect for tonight after a winter storm that brought us snow and 20 degree weather.  Atlanta is paralyzed.  It seems everyone tried to get out of the city at the same time and there have been people stuck in their cars since early afternoon.  There was even a baby born in gridlock.    Not since Sherman burned the city during the Civil War has there been such pandemonium; and where is Rhett Butler and that old nag!

But back to the daube...

Daube de Boeuf Carottes on a bed of parsnip puree

A daube is basically a stew cooked at a fairly low temperature for a long period of time.  Daube a la Provencal is made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence.  It is traditionally cooked in a daubière, or braising pan. A traditional daubière is a terracotta pot that resembles a pitcher, with a concave lid. Water is poured on the lid, which condenses the moisture inside, allowing for the long cooking required to tenderize lesser cuts of meat.

A traditional daubiere

 I inherited my daubiere from my aunt Julieta who, in turn, inherited it from her father.  He was not a gourmet cook but he loved to collect gadgets.  I am sure this was bought at Hammacher Schlemmer, one of his favorite stores.  Here, instead of filling the concave lid with water, you add a few ice cubes on top which will melt and condense inside, adding moisture to the stew through those tiny holes in the other side of the lid.  Or something like that... . 

The meat used in daube is cut from the shoulder and back of the bull, though some suggest they should be made from three cuts of meat: the "gelatinous shin for body, short ribs for flavor, and chuck for firmness." Although most modern recipes call for red wine a minority, such as the recipe below, call for white, as do the earliest recorded daube recipes.

Variations call for olives, prunes, and flavoring with duck fat.   Vinegar, brandy, lavender, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, juniper berries, or orange peel also appear in some recipes with the latter being the most popular.  For best flavor, it is cooked in several stages, and cooled for a day after each stage to allow the flavors to meld together. In the Camargue and Béarn area of France, bulls killed in bullfighting festivals are often used to make daube.

Traditionally this dish should be cooked for a long time and prepared the night before it is served.

The recipe I have used comes from La Cuisine by Francoise Bernard.  It is my Bible for traditional dishes such as this.  It calls for the white wine mentioned above but I have given you a choice of red or white.  I cooked mine with a red Cotes du Rhone which I reduced to half the volume before adding it to the marinade.  It's an old trick I leaned from Daniel Boulud that gives the illusion that the sauce has been cooking for hours.

You can cook the daube on top of the stove or in the oven.  I have given directions for both.   Frankly, daubiere or not, I prefer to cook it in the oven.  If you want to turn your pot into a daubiere, cover the top of your Le Creuset tightly with tin foil and place the lid on top.

As I am getting ready to publish this post, there are still people in gridlock due to the storm.  Some have been trapped over nine hours and many are abandoning their cars and walking.   Lots of children are being kept overnight at their schools.  What a mess.  


3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 TB butter
7 ounces thick sliced pancetta or bacon cut crosswise
   into 1/4 inch thick strips
4 onions quartered
1 long strip of orange zest
Salt and pepper
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 cups black olives (optional, I omitted this time)
Chopped parsley for sprinkling at the end


3 cups dry white or red wine (previously reduced to half the amount)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 TB oil
1/4 Cup Cognag
Thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
Parsley sprigs


In a large bowl combine the beef with the marinade ingredients.  Cover and marinade overnight or at least a couple of hours.

In a flameproof casserole (or daubiere if you have one) melt the butter over medium heat.  Add pancetta or bacon and lightly brown.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl .

Scrape the marinade off the beef  (but save) and dry the meat with paper towels.  Add to the casserole and, in batches, brown on all sides.  Do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam instead of browning.  As they are done, transfer the pieces to a plate.

Add the onions to the pot and lightly brown.  Return the beef and the marinade to the pot, together with the orange strip.  Add salt and pepper to taste and cover.  If you do not have a daubiere (who does!) cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and cover with the lid.  Cook for 2 hours on top of the stove or on a 300 degree oven.

Add the tomatoes, bacon and olives and cook for another 30 minutes.

Transfer the stew to a warm serving platter and sprinkle with parsley.  Serve over noodles of your choice.  That is very Provencal. 

Photos # 2, #3 Wikipedia
All others Lindaraxa


  1. I miss this kind of hearty, slow-cooked dish. Taiwan might not have snow, but we have long stretches of damp, chilly weather in winter. If I were in Cleveland now, I would request my mother to make her famous baked lima beans and beef.

  2. How fun to have the dauberie - that's a real family treasure. And to eat daube on a miserably cold night is also a treasure. I will definitely take note of reducing the wine. What a fabulous idea.

    Stay warm. I love your analogy of Sherman & Atlanta. I will remember that one.

    1. This is worse. At least those people kept moving on foot and whatever. Here there are still people stuck in their cars 24 hrs. later. The daubiere has held up incredibly. It looks almost new. One of the things I use all the time for stews, pot roast etc.

  3. I, too, have been cooking the "homey" food of winter! I love daubes and I covet your pot! I have no room in the kitchen for anything but I think I could manage to find a place for one of those!

    1. Thinking of you as I get ready to make some scones for this afternoon's tea!

  4. Julieta, I have been thinking this would be a wonderful meal to have on hand when the snow was predicted. I knew the state would be shut down, people stuck in their cars over 20 hours!

    Thanks for this delicious recipe!

    1. Thank heavens Christy decided to stay home. Wise call! She's been decreed the weatherman of the office.

    2. Thank heavens Christy decided to stay home. Wise call! She's been decreed the weatherman of the office.

  5. This looks absolutely delicious and mouth watering… I have bean soup on the stove right now which seems very meek and mild compared to this. Yes,our snow storm. Well, here it hasn't been as bad as all those terrible reports from your area; but even so, 4" and nothing is moving. Amazing. Peter was out shoveling this morning but really it was so easy compared to those endless mountains we used to get up north.
    Let's talk soon??

    1. I wish we could shovel the ice. That's the real problem here. I am watching the local channel and can see some of the traffic begin to move. The problem was everyone tried to get out at once...all 6 million of them!

      Yes, I will try to Skype you. got a new computer for Xmas from Christy and struggling with Windows 8. What a nightmare. Would rather be stuck in 20 hour gridlock!

  6. Glad you are safe and home—with a well stocked freezer! I grew up in Southern Oklahoma, a place where it seldom snowed but when it did, CRAZY!. Of course people there didn't have snow tires, had no experience driving in snow, and the snow removal system was spring. Here in Kansas, the hell-hole state, they do a rather good job of pretreating/treating snow. Stay snug and cook just enough to keep the Sous Chef busy.

  7. Dear Roxie:
    My mother, MD, had a flame Le Creuset daubiere when I was a lad, of which she was inordinantly proud. I have no idea what became of it. As a fan of daub de boeuf, which I make ar least two or three times a year, I was rivited by this post and recipe, and immediately ordered a brand new LC daubiere (they call it a Doufeu), in flame of course, which was delivered within a matter of days (thank you Amazon Prime). I am looking forward to trying this recipe, and of course will toast you for inspiring me, yet again! Erver so, Reggie

  8. I had no idea they still made them. You will use it a lot. I use mine all the time for stews, short ribs etc. I will be the most toasted food blogger on the blogosphere!

  9. What's your opinion of pressure cookers, m'dear?

    1. I don't use them. Never have. Nor have I ever used a slow cooker.

    2. Okay, thank -- I just bought a top-o-the-line pressure cooker, recommended by Cook's Illustrated (I love their website, the videos and produc reviews in particuar). I wonder, will it be yet another $250 kitchen gadget that I use only once? I'll let you know...

    3. Depends..If you are someone who works all day and want something like this ready when you get home, then you might use it twice in your life. I;m very traditional with recipes and after all I am home. Now that you have it, you will get on a kick and will be using it all the time. Let me know a year from now!

  10. I'm making this recipe right now! I will be posting a photo (and link to this recipe and blog) on FB later today.... Reggie

    1. Make it early and let it sit. Hope it meets your expectations and is as good as you remember MD's. Will be checking FB later for the results.

    2. Help! I have tried to post about ot on FB, with no success. While I can post a photo of the delicious stew bubbling away, I can't add in a link to this blog in the same posting. Any suggestions? BTW, I marinaded the beed overnight, as you suggested. It was gorgeous! And the daube? HEAVENLY!!

    3. I just shared the link to your timeline on FB. Post your pictures and comments . OR delete mine and go to my post, scroll all the way down until you see the Facebook button. click and follow directions. Lindaraxa to the rescue...again...


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