Boeuf en Daube – To The Lighthouse

“An exquisite scent of olives and oil and juice rose from the great brown dish as Marthe, with a little flourish took the cover off. The cook had spent three days over that dish and she must take great care, Mrs. Ramsay thought, diving into the soft mass to choose an especially tender piece for William Bankes.And she peered into the dish, with its shiny walls and its confusion of savory brown and yellow meats, and its bay leaves and its wine and thought, This will celebrate the occasion…”
To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf

Thoughts:

That above quote, mouthwatering in the extreme, is like an appetizer unto itself. As soon as I read it, I knew I had another dish to make.

This recipe makes a wonderful, hearty beef stew that is just perfect for the coming chill of late fall and winter. The olives provide an unlooked for earthiness that is sometimes lacking in other stews, while the orange zest lightens the whole dish. The meat is meltingly tender, having been both marinated and slow cooked. The broth was not as thick as I would have liked, but a simple roux would fix that easily enough. I simmered mine most of the day in a crock pot, which gradually gave the whole house a rich, enticing aroma.

I recommend pairing the stew with a nice loaf of rustic bread, some cheese, and either a hefty salad or a couple of sides, like potatoes and green beans.

Recipe for Boeuf en Daube

Prep: marinate overnight       Stewing: 6 hours
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs stew beef, cubed
  • 4 shallots, sliced thin
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 -2 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle inexpensive red wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 strips smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup dried mushrooms, chopped small
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 tablespoon soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup olives, pitted and cut into slices
  • zest of half an orange
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • splash of cognac (optional)

Marinade the beef with the herbs, shallots & garlic overnight in half of the red wine.

The next day, drain the meat, pouring the wine into your stewpot or crockpot.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until it is somewhat crispy, and the fat has run from it. Remove the bacon and add to your main pot. Working in batches, add the seasoned beef to the bacon fat and cook until just browned on each side. Remove the meat to the pot, but keep the garlic and shallots cooking in the frying pan until they are soft and fragrant. Pour this mixture into the main pot, adding also the thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes, carrots, sugar, olives, zest, and remaining wine.

Cook on low for at least six hours, at which point the meat should be very tender. If you like, add a splash of cognac near the end of cooking.

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