Provencal Beef Stew
This dish is known in French as daube de boeuf à la Provençal
after the earthenware pot it was originally cooked in, called a daubiere.
This is a delicious, rich and fruity French style stew which makes a perfect winter meal.
What most Beef Provencal recipes do not explain is that the very best tasting Beef Provencal can only be cooked in a daubiere and there are a couple reasons for this.
A "daube" of any kind is very slow cooked and uses minimal additional liquid in addition to that released by the ingredients. The shape of the daubiere, in addition to the concave lid allows this to happen. The concave lid allows cool water to be added to the top of the daubiere but not into it. This liquid evaporates as the daube slowly cooks, keeping the top contents of the daubiere cooler than the base.
Liquid inside the daubiere evaporates during cooking but the shape of the container, and the cooler top, causes the liquid to condense and drop back into the cooking daube. There are other elements to cooking in a daubiere but the basic principles described above are key.
Before rushing out to buy a daubiere, it is wise to consider that, properly constructed using the correct materials, they will cost well over £100. This recipe assumes that you do not have a daubiere but still want a decent tasting Beef Provencal Stew and the best way to do that is to use a slow cooker. As an alternative, a large pan with a close fitting lid will provide acceptable results.
30ml / 2 tablespoons olive oil
55g /2oz lardons or thick cut bacon, diced
450g / 1lb stewing steak cut into 1½in cubes
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 ripe tomato, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon / 15 ml tomato puree (paste)
1 garlic clove, crushed
250 ml dry red wine
150 ml beef stock
Half teaspoon mixed herbs or a bouquet garni (if you can find it)
Grated zest and juice of half an unwaxed orange
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and ground black pepper
Cut the beef into 4cm / 1.5in cubes.
Finely slice the onion and separate the rings
Crush or finely chop the garlic
Peel and chop the tomato (see advice section below for how to peel tomatoes).
Run cold water over the tomatoes and the skins can then easily be peeled off.
The cooking time in this recipe is stated as 5 to 7 hours. In France they often start the cooking a meal of this type in the morning and then eat it at dinner time - 10 hours cooking time is not unusual for Beef Provencal and will not suffer for this.
Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan on high heat. Add the bacon pieces / lardons and cook over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until golden brown and the fat has melted.
Transfer the bacon / lardons (not any fat) to the slow cooker pot and switch the slow cooker on to high heat.
Frying bacon lardons
Add the beef to the frying pan in single layers, do not overcrowd the pan as this will encourage the meat to cook in its own juices and will not brown.STEP 3
Cook for 6-8 minutes until browned, turning frequently to give good colour all round.
Browned beef for Provencal Beef
Put the beef into the slow cooker pot and pour the wine and stock over the meat.STEP 5
Heat the remaining oil in the pan and add the onions, cook gently on a medium to low heat for 5 minutes.
Stir occasionally to ensure the onions don't stick to the pan and are cooked evenly.STEP 6
Put in the carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes until softened.
Add carrots to Beef Provencal
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée and crushed garlic and mixed herbs / bouquet garni, mix well and transfer to the cooking pot.
Cover the slow cooker with the lid and switch it to low heat.
Start slow cooking Beef Provencal
Cook for 5 - 7 hours, or until the beef and vegetables are very tender.
Uncover, skim of any residue fat, discard the bouquet garni (if used) and stir in the orange zest and juice, add the chopped parsley and serve.