Let's Eat

Daube of beef

January 26, 2011

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Serves 8

A Provencal daube (named for the French braising pan, daubière) is a long-cooked dish, usually made with inexpensive beef. Allow plenty of time for the meat to simmer in red wine. A chuck roast weighing between four and five pounds can take four hours to cook. Make the dish the day before, let it cool, skim off the fat, and reheat it the following day. To this simmering pot, add the pared rind and juice of a navel orange, if you like. You can also make a daube with a bottle of white wine. Serve with mashed potatoes.

1 boneless beef chuck roast (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), strings or netting removed
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 large red onions, each cut into 8 wedges
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (14.5 ounces) chopped tomatoes
3 cups water
1 bottle red wine
Few sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup pitted Picholine or other small green olives
Extra sprigs fresh thyme, chopped (for garnish)

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees.

2. Sprinkle the meat all over with salt and pepper.

3. In a large flameproof casserole over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the meat and let it brown without moving for at least 5 minutes or until it releases easily from the pan. Using 2 large metal spoons, turn the meat and brown another side. Keep turning the meat until all the sides are brown. Remove the meat from the pan.

4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. When it is hot, add the carrots, onions, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the cumin into the pan. Cook, stirring well, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and water. Cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the wine and return the liquid to a boil.

5. Return the meat to the pan. It will not be submerged in the liquid. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Set on the cover askew. Transfer to the oven.

6. Cook the meat for 1 1/2 hours. Carefully remove the pan from the oven. With a large knife, cut the meat in the pan along its natural lines to make 2 or 3 large pieces. Turn them so the uncooked portion is facing up. Set on the cover askew. Continue cooking for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork. (Total cooking time is 3 1/2 to 4 hours.)

7. Let the meat and vegetables cool, then transfer to a large container. Pour the sauce into another container. Cover and refrigerate. Skim the fat from the sauce.

8. In a large flameproof casserole, bring the sauce to a boil. Let it bubble steadily for 10 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Add the beef and vegetables. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the meat is heated through. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Cut the meat into 4-inch chunks. Serve the meat surrounded by vegetables and sauce. Sprinkle with thyme.

Sheryl Julian