January seems the perfect time of year for a hearty beef casserole, a warming, bold dish full of protein and lower on fat than much of the standard Christmas fayre, unless you incorporate lard into your recipe as Jacques Médecin does in his book Cuisine Niçoise. With just a handful of lardons to add that extra bit of flavour to my daube, I set out on the two, three even four day process involved in getting the most from this dish, and as usual debated with myself on the following dilemma: with or without olives, tomatoes or none? Given that we are in January, the answer right now is a sound no to both, but a Daube Niçoise will usually include these ingredients whilst a Daube Provençale from further west would often omit them, going for orange rind and more herbs instead.
Now in case you’re wondering why I suggest that it could take up to four days to reap the rewards of good daube, here is my thinking:
Day One – prepare the marinade for the beef (carrots, onion, celery, orange zest, garlic, herbs, red wine), and leave it to sit in a cool place overnight.
Day Two – retrieve the beef from the marinade and cook the daube according to the recipe instructions. The cooking process is long and slow – you can never overcook a daube we are told in Colman Andrews’ Flavours of the Riviera. You can eat the daube on Day Two should you wish, but rest assured that if you leave it until Day Three the flavours will have developed still further.
Day Three – eat the daube. If you have followed the above advice, you will have sufficient leftovers for Day Four, or for another day as they freeze well.
Day Four – make pasta and use the leftover daube as a stuffing for ravioli. Top with grated parmesan. A post on ravioli-making will follow soon.
Go with red wines to match these two dishes. For the daube, a Coteaux d’Aix or a village Rhône like Gigondas or Vacqueyras. With the addition of pasta and grated parmesan to finish, the ravioli is fun with a Corsican sangiovese-a-like red or a Bellet.
Daube de Boeuf
Serves 4 with leftovers for ravioli
For the marinade (Day One):
1kg chunks of stewing beef
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large stick of celery, chopped
Peeled zest of a small orange
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
A handful of fresh curly-leaved parsley, chopped
A few sprigs of thyme
75cl (one standard bottle) of red wine
A teaspoon of sea salt and a few twists of the black pepper mill
Place the dry marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the beef and pour over the red wine. Mix well and cover. Place in the fridge or a very cool place and leave overnight.
To cook the Daube (Day Two):
The marinade ingredients
2 tbsps olive oil
200g bacon lardons
1 red onion, chopped
In the morning or when you are ready to cook, lift the meat out of the marinade. Strain the liquid from the solid ingredients and reserve both. Dry the beef pieces on kitchen towel.
In a large frying pan with a lid, fry the lardons until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside. Gently fry the chopped red onion in the lardon fat until soft. Set the onion aside with the lardons. Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the beef chunks in batches, a third at a time, until browned on all sides. Set the beef aside.
Tip the solid marinade ingredients into the pan and heat briefly in any remaining olive oil until they start to sizzle. Add the red onion, lardons and beef and cook for a further five minutes, stirring regularly. Tip in the marinade liquid and add boiling water if necessary to cover all the ingredients. Stir to mix everything and then cook very gently, with the lid on the pan, for three to four hours. Stir occasionally and add more wine if the daube gets too thick. Taste and season with salt and pepper as required.
The daube will be fine to eat at this stage but you could leave it to cool and refrigerate it until the next day.
To reheat the Daube (Day Three):
Remove the daube from the fridge and skim off any fat sitting on the top of it. Reheat carefully over a very low heat until cooked through.
Serve with gnocchi or spinach pasta tossed in butter and parsley.
Ravioli (Day Four): To be continued…….