Beef Daube, aka Provencal Beef Stew! With red wine and herbs, it’s slow roasted till the beef is super tender and so delicious!
Bonjour and Bon Appétit from Provence! You’re going to love this Provencal Beef Stew!
Scott and I planned a little side trip to France in the midst of visiting family in London. We rented a flat for a week in Apt, which is right in the heart of Provence. It was funny, when we landed in Marseille on Wednesday and saw gray, cloudy skies and pouring rain, we couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps someone had played a trick on us. Did the plane just circle around Heathrow for a few hours and then plop us right back down in London?
Thankfully, that was not true! Thursday morning brought clear blue skies with mild temperatures, and we’ve been loving our temporary home-away-from-home. Apt is perched on the edge of the beautiful Luberon mountains and it’s charming city center is old and quaint, dating back to the Roman times. We’ll be posting more about Apt and the surrounding area, as well as sharing a delightful Provencal culinary school we attended. But I couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about what’s become a favorite Café recipe lately; Provencal Beef Stew, aka Beef Daube.
What is Beef Daube?
I’d never heard of Beef Daube until I started researching regional Provencal fare several months ago, in anticipation of our trip. To start with, I learned it’s pronounced dōb. I was intrigued when I read about Daube, a French version of beef stew that’s been popular in Provence for centuries. It’s typically made from inexpensive, tougher cuts of beef and braised for hours in wine with onions, carrots, garlic and herbs until the beef is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and all the flavors have melded.
I looked at lots of different recipes for daube, and then came up with my own version. It’s a bit different, in that I used leaner beef to make the dish a little healthier, (less fat) but other than that I kept this daube fairly traditional.
I love that daube, not only can, but should be made a day or two ahead. It gets better as it rests in the fridge and the flavors have time to meld together. Daube is easily warmed before serving, making it perfect for entertaining and great for meals around the holidays when time is at a premium. Rather than adding the mushrooms in the beginning with the other veggies, I like to sauté them in a bit of butter, until golden and add them to the daube just before serving – the mushrooms tend to keep their shape better and each bite is a delicious burst of flavor.
Here at The Café, daube is served in shallow bowls with polenta or mashed potatoes. You could also serve it on it’s own. With carrots, onions and mushrooms cooked right along with the meat, daube is a meal in a bowl. Just add a simple green salad and a loaf of warm, crusty bread (French, of course to sop up the fabulous sauce) and you’re good to go.
I’ve served this Provencal Beef Stew several times to friends and again to my family in London, each time to rave reviews. Pin it, and next time you need a delicious, make-ahead, comfort food, dinner party-worthy entree, you’ll be all set! When your guests arrive, say “Bonjour, bienvenue en Provence!” (Hello, and welcome to Provence!) They’ll flip after taking the first delicious bite – then you just smile and say, “Bon appétit!”
P.S. This is the coolest thing ever: I’d always heard that thyme and rosemary grow wild all over the countryside in Provence – and it’s true! Scott and I were on a long bike ride yesterday. We stopped (for the millionth time) for another photo op (they’re around every single corner here in Provence!). Scott looked down and said, “Is that thyme?” Sure enough, we looked around and there were wild thyme and rosemary plants here, there and everywhere! They will even grow out of a tiny opening in a rock wall! I think I might have been born in the wrong country – imagine, taking a walk or bike ride and being able to pick fresh herbs for your evening dinner!!
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2-2 ½ pounds sirloin tip roast trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or other neutral flavored oil
- 12 medium garlic cloves* peeled and crushed slightly
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 2 cups low sodium beef broth
- 1 pound baby carrots
- 1 medium onion halved and sliced in thin wedges
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons anchovie paste**
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary plus more for garnishing
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves plus more for garnishing
- 2 medium bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 pound mushrooms***
Preheat oven to 250°. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a medium size bowl. Add beef to the bowl and toss with your hands until beef is coated.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add garlic and sauté until soft and pale golden. Remove to a large plate or bowl. Increase heat to medium.
Add half of the beef. Distribute so beef is in a single layer. Cook for several minutes without stirring, till beef is nice and brown on the underside, then flip and brown on the other side. Remove beef with a slotted spoon to the plate with the garlic and repeat with second half. When beef is nicely browned remove to the plate.
Add the wine and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan with a metal spoon or spatula to loosen the frond (the brown bits). Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until wine mixture is reduced to about 1/2 cup.
Add the broth, beef, garlic and any remaining flour that's left in the bowl. Stir to combine, then add carrots, onion, tomato paste, anchovie paste, fresh herbs and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then cover and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until beef is very tender. Remove bay leaves and set daube aside to cool. Refrigerate overnight or for as long as 2-3 days.
To warm daube before serving, preheat oven to 250˚F. Heat daube in oven, covered, for 1 hour or until thoroughly heated through.
While daube is warming, melt butter in a medium size pan. Add mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Sauté until golden brown. (After several minutes of cooking, mushrooms will look watery. Just keep cooking till all of the liquid is evaporated and mushrooms turn golden.) Add mushrooms to daube, just before serving.
Serve daube in shallow bowls, on it's own or over mashed potatoes or polenta (our favorite). Garnish with fresh herbs.
* 12 cloves sounds like a lot. Don't worry that the Daube will be two garlicky. As the stew slowly cooks the garlic seems to "melt" into the delicious sauce.
** Don't skip this. If you don't like anchovies, don't worry! You'll never know in a million years they are anchovies in here but they add fabulous flavor.
*** I've used button mushrooms and a variety of wild mushrooms. Use whatever kind you like or what's freshest at the market.)