My Recipe for a Traditional Provencal Beef Stew a Daube
A daube is a slow-cooked stew you will find simmering at a grandmotherly pace in kitchens across France, though the best known are from southern France. Traditionally daubes can be made from lamb or beef, though one does not need to travel too far to find pork daubes, bull daubes, bull testicle daubes, goose daubes, rabbit daubes, and even octopus daubes.
‘Plus elle est demeuree sur le feu, meilleure elle est!’
(The longer it stays on the fire, the better the daube is)
In the old days, they were cooked in the embers of a dying wood fire in a unique potbellied pot called a daubiere fashioned from copper or clay. The lengthy cooking time combined with the pot’s bulbous shape creates convection where heat from the bottom rises in the form of steam, hits the cooler top, and then rains back down over the simmering meat. This action allows the collagen in braising meats to turn into gelatin and provides a silky mouthfeel to the finished dish. Here is my video for this recipe.
Many cooks claim it is impossible to make a proper daube without a daubiere. Though some, including me, will begrudgingly admit it is possible, the results will be slightly less succulent. However, if daube making becomes a passion in your life, there is still one potter in France making authentic daubieres. Remember Provence sells authentic, traditional daubieres made from clay, and they ship worldwide.
Daube of Beef a la Provencale
- 2 lbs Boneless Short Ribs beef cheeks, or any other gelatinous cut of beef
- 1 zest / juice of Orange see notes
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1 Star Anise
- 1 Bay Leaf
- a few Juniper Berries
- 1 bottle of Big Red Wine
- 1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 medium Carrots sliced into rounds
- 1 sweet Onion diced
- 1/4 cup Garlic Cloves mashed
- 4 ounces Slab Bacon diced
- 1 tbsp All-purpose Flour
- 1 14-ounces can of San Marzano tomatoes, undrained
- 1 cup Beef Stock chicken stock, or water
- a big pinch of Saffron Threads
- 6 Oil-Packed Anchovy Fillets chopped
- 1 cup Picholine Olives
- In a large nonreactive bowl, combine the beef, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, star anise, bay leaf, juniper, and wine. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain into the bowl, reserving the liquid. Discard the orange zest and spices. With paper towels, pat the short ribs dry.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat. Add the beef and cook, frequently turning, until browned on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate. Add the carrots and onion and cook, occasionally stirring, until lightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bacon and cook until the bacon is browned about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour. Squeeze each of the tomatoes in your hand until they pop, then add them and their juices, the stock, and reserved marinade to the pot. Stir in the saffron, anchovies, and olives, then add the beef. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. If you are using a daubiere, you should transfer everything to the clay pot at this point. Please see the cooking note below. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the meat is insanely tender or about 5 hours.
- Serve directly from the pot.
Never eat a daube the same day it is made. Let the stew mature and its flavours marry, then blossom into the work of art that humble peasant cooking is. Serve it with boiled or mashed potatoes, spätzle, potato gratin, or buttered noodles.Cooking is meant to be a joyous thing and not as exacting as everyone makes it out to be. Have fun, and do what you like. If you don't have juniper, bacon, anchovies, and/or olives, don't worry. Cooking is free-form poetry at its very best.