Friday, July 06, 2007

Daube de Boeuf a la Provencale

Casserole of beef with garlic and anchovy sauce*

*This can also be made without the anchovy sauce if you are not a fan (see below)

3lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2.5inch squares, 1 inch thick
A large glazed earthenware bowl
1.5 cups dry white wine, dry white vermouth, or red wine
Optional: 1/4 cup brandy, or gin
1tbsp olive oil
2tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme or sage
1 crumbled bay leaf
2 cloves mashed garlic
2cups thinly sliced onions
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
Place the beef in the bowl and mix with the wine, optional spirits, olive oil, seasonings, herbs and vegetables. Cover and marinate at least 3 hours (6 if refrigerated), stirring up frequently.

1/2lb lean bacon, cut into 1 inch slices 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches long (approximately)
1.5 cups (6oz) sliced fresh mushrooms
1.5lbs ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped (this will make about 2.25 cups tomato pulp).
Simmer the bacon for 10 min in 2 quarts of water. Drain and dry. Prepare the mushrooms and tomatoes.
Remove the beef from the marinade and drain in a sieve.
Preheat oven to 325f

A 5-6 quart fireproof casserole, 3.5 inches deep.
1 cup sifted flour on a plate
1 to 2 cups beef stock
Line the bottom of the casserole with 3 or 4 strips of bacon. Strew a handful of the marinade vegetables, mushrooms and tomatoes over them. Piece by piece, roll the beef in the flour and shake off excess. Place closely together in a layer over the vegetables. Cover with a few strips of bacon, and continue with layers of vegetables, beef and bacon. End with a layer of vegetables, and 2 or 3 strips of bacon.
Pour in the wine from the marinade and enough stock almost to cover the contents of the casserole. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover closely, and set in the lower third of the preheated oven for 2.5 hours.

10 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil
2 tbsp capers
3 tbsp wine vinegar
3tbsp oil from the anchovy can, or olive oil
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 cup minced parsley
Using a fork, mash the anchovies and capers to a paste in a bowl. Beat in the other ingredients. After the casserole has cooked for 2.5 hours remove it from the oven and skim off the fat. Pour on the anchovy mixture and baste the beef with the cooking juices in the casserole. Cover and return to oven till meat is tender (another half hour).

This is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and as with the other recipe I made from this book, it actually looks far more complicated then it is. It is time consuming though, I would only make it on a day when you are pretty much staying around the house. It has to cook for 3 hours, and there is some prep involved too. This recipe falls under the category of: foods you have to plan for, but are totally worth it.

One of the reasons I wanted to try this is because you really only ever see beef cooked in red wine, but this recipe said you could use either white or red, and actually put white as the top choice. I figured that alone made it interesting enough to try.

As for prep, the only real pain was the tomatoes, and even that’s not actually so bad. I have a feeling that if you were really against preparing the tomatoes, you could probably just drain some cans of whole tomatoes. If you are going to use fresh ones remember this tip: Put them in a bowl, and pour boiling water over them, cover them and let them sit for 1 minute. Pour off the water, and then if you just make a small slash in the skin, it will peel right off, easy as a banana skin. I generally just seed them by poking my thumb in and squishing all the stuff out. It actually didn’t take all that long to do.

This was also a little different then other beef stews I have made because it is layered (sort of like a lasagna), instead of all mixed up. That was kind of fun to do, but I’m not sure I totally get the point. When it came out of the oven and came time to serve it, it served as if it was all just mixed up anyway. Maybe it had something to do with the flour distribution or something, but I wouldn’t worry too much about getting the layers perfect.

*One last thing, this was actually a variation on the recipe before it in the book, which was exactly the same, but without the anchovy sauce in the end. I chose this version because I cannot resist and opportunity to add garlic and anchovy to things, I love them so much, but if you don’t then I would still recommend this recipe, because even without the extra topping, it was so amazing. The flavor and the consistency of the sauce, just everything about it was perfect.

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