Beef Daube was one of my favourite French casseroles that I always ordered whilst holidaying with my parents in the South of France.
This dish was traditionally cooked in a daubiere which is a terracotta pot, hence the name.
According to tradition it was invented by a farmers wife who had put a piece of beef in the oven to cook, began gossiping with a friend and lost track of time. Returning to a very dry pot and burnt meat, in a desperate effort to hide her mistake and salvage the meal she added herbs and wine and vegetables to the pot. This resulted in a sweet and tender stew that all her neighbours wanted the recipe for.
It is classically Provencal and made with an inexpensive cut of beef usually featherblade and braised in wonderful French white wine, vegetables, garlic and of course Herb de Provence. I generally use shin of beef as it is gelatinous and produces a lovely rich gravy. I have had many variations over the years including olives and capers.
My favourite recipe is as follows:-
1.75kg Shin of Beef
4 tbsp Olive Oil
2 sliced onions
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp capers
100 g black olives
410g tin chipped toms
200g carrots – 5cm pieces
100g finely chopped celery
Zest of 1 orange
Bunch of parsley
If you have time combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and add the meat to marinade over night turning from time to time, keep covered.
1 bottle of white wine
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper
Turn the oven on to 140°C.
Drain the marinade off the beef and pat dry, keeping the marinade.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat and add the onions and garlic and saute gently for eight minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the marinade a little at a time. Add the Capers, olives, tomatoes and orange zest and allow to simmer.
Heat the remaining oil in another frying pan dust the beef in the flour and salt and pepper, brown the meat to seal.
Add the beef to the casserole and bring to a simmer cover with a lid and place in the oven for two hours.
After two hours add the carrots and mushrooms and celery and cook for a further hour.
Just before serving check the seasoning and sprinkle with parsley. This is generally served with flat noodles tossed in a little butter but also very nice with boiled potatoes.