Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Provençal Classic: Boeuf Daube with an Earthy Rhone Red


Le Lavandou, a Provençal restaurant in my neighborhood in Cleveland Park in Washington, DC, offers no corkage fee on Monday nights. The owner, Florence Devilliers, usually offers a classic French main course. A red wine boeuf daube (beef stew) provided the perfect meal for this cold, wintery night. After several comments on the pics posted on the Crush and Press Facebook Fan page, sharing the recipe for this classic hearty, comfort dish was a must do.

This version is courtesy of Patricia Wells, “The Provence Cookbook.” I’ve had wonderful success with this cookbook along with her many others. She calls this recipe, “Forgotten Red Wine Daube (pronounced like knob)” or Daube au Vin Rouge Oublié. “Forgotten” refers to the two bottles of red wine that have been forgotten in the cellar and are past optimum maturity for drinking. This is not a problem most of us encounter. Any decent red wine would work, but a Rhone is preferred.

With this recipe, exactness is not imperative. Merely follow the technique and experiment with readily available ingredients. No need to worry if you can’t find an ingredient, except for the beef and the red wine (LOL).

Here’s the recipe:

Equipment: A large sieve; a large heavy-duty casserole, preferably enameled cast-iron, with a lid (my 7 ¼ quart Le Creuset round Dutch oven is perfect); a 6-quart past pot fitted with a colander.

6 lbs. of beef, preferably two or three different cuts, cut into 3-ounce cubes.

The marinade:

2 btls. Red wince, southern Rhone preferred

4 fresh or dried bay leaves

½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

5 whole cloves

Several sprigs fresh thyme

½ cup Extra Virgin olive oil

3 tbls. Extra Virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

30 shallots, peeled and trimmed

Grated zest of 4 oranges

2 cups of pitted olives

3 tbls coarse sea salt

1 lb. penne pasta

1. In a large shallow bowl, combine the meat and the marinade ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours, turning the meat from time to time. Place the sieve over a bowl. Pour meat into the sieve, reserving the marinade ingredients in the bowl. Discard the bay leaves; cloves, and thyme.

2. In the heavy –duty casserole, heat the oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add several pieces of meat and brown them over moderate heat, regulating the heat to avoid scorching the meat. Do not crowd the pan and is patient: Good browning is essential for the meat to retain flavor and moistness. Thoroughly brown the meat on all sides in several batches, about 10 minutes per batch. As each batch is browned, use tongs (to avoid piercing the meat) to transfer the beef to a platter. Immediately season generously with salt and pepper.

3. Return all the meat to the casserole. Add the reserved marinade and cover. Bring just to a simmer over moderate heat. Once the liquid has come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered, maintaining a very gentle simmer, until the meat is very tender, 3 to 4 hours. Stir from time to time to evenly coat the pieces of meat with the liquid. During the last 30 minutes, add the shallots, orange zest, and olives, and stir them into the mixture. The sauce should be glossy and slightly thick. Taste for season. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pieces of meat, shallots, olives, and orange zest to another large covered casserole, leaving the sauce in the pan.

Wine: A hearty red works best, particularly the earthiness of the southern or northern Rhone valley. Châteauneuf-du-Papes, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Cairanne, Rasteau, Beaumes-des-Venise and Séguret from the southern Rhone and St. Joseph, Crozes Hermitage, Cornas from the northern Rhone are classic choices. I chose Christine and Eric Saurel’s 2004 Domaine Montirius Vacqueyras, “Le Clos” with a 50-50 split of Grenache and Syrah. The aromas exemplify the region’s “garrigues” soil, a French term meaning sun-scorched herbs and earth. Twice I’ve had the good fortune of experiencing their hospitality at their domaine in Vacqueyras. One of my core mantras in life is to buy from nice people only. The Saurels more than qualify and make an outstanding stable of biodynamic wines. Oak is not to be found at the domaine. Their Gigondas and “Le Confidentiel” are stunning.

1 comment:

Jacqueline Chambliss said...

I can't wait to try all of it! Thanks for the recipe and the wine.