Daube de Boeuf à la Provençale

Okay, all you chefs out there, relax,  daube is merely a word derived from daubière meaning a covered casserole. If you have a decently deep covered pan among your kitchen odds and ends, you can create a truly, excellent French-inspired daube,   impressing anyone with whom you care to share it. That infamous trio, Beck, Bertholle and Child, have an excellent recipe for Daube de Boeuf in volume one of their two-volume set (see p. 322).  They say in the introduction to their recipe   that "Almost every region of France has its own daubes, estoufades, and terrines."    Feel free to experiment and do your own thing — exactly what French chefs do.

¼ cup olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more, if needed, divided
3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes and trimmed of all excess fat
1½ cups chopped onions
1/3 cup flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2½ cups beef broth
1½ cups dry white wine
3 strips orange peel, each about 3-in. long and 1-in. wide
½ pound peeled baby carrots
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
½ cup pitted green Mediterranean olives, drained and slivered
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, drained and slivered
¾ pound plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch-wide strips

In large, heavy, casserole with oven-safe lid—a medium-sized LeCreuset casserole is perfect for a daube— heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat beef cubes dry with paper towels. When oil is hot, add enough beef to fit a single layer in pan and sauté, turning, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Repeat, adding small amount of extra oil if needed, until all beef has been browned.
If there is not enough oil in pan after browning meat, add about ½ tablespoon more and heat until hot. Add onions and sauté, stirring, until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Return meat to pan with onions and toss mixture with flour. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add 1½ teaspoons salt, several grinds of black pepper, rosemary, thyme, broth, wine and orange peel strips.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Bring mixture to simmer. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake on center rack at 350° F. until meat is tender, about 1¾ hours. Remove from oven. Stir in carrots. Cover, return to oven and cook until carrots are fork tender, about 30 minutes more.
Remove. If not serving immediately, cool, cover and refrigerate. (Daube can be prepared a day ahead and reheated over low heat, stirring often, until hot. Prior to serving remove orange peel and discard. Stir in olives and tomatoes and cook to heat through, about one minute. Taste and correct seasoning.
Serve with pasta of choice, traditionally fettuccine. (One and one-quarter pounds fresh fettuccine noodles or another pasta shape of your choice would be adequate for this quantity of daube.)

Yield: Serves 6.

Serve this stew with a green salad with vinaigrette dressing and some fresh bread, followed by a simple dessert such as a selection of your favorite cheeses with seasonal fruits.


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