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Beef Daube Provençal

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Serves 6 to 8

  • by from Basic to Brilliant, Y'all

Regardless of how fancy this dish may sound, this is simple, satisfying country cooking.

  • 4 lb. boneless lean rump roast, chuck pot roast, sirloin tip, top round, or bottom round, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine (such as Côtes du Rhône, Bandol, or Mourvèdre)
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, preferably Vidalia, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. pure olive oil, plus more if needed
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bouquet garni (5 sprigs thyme; 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley; 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh; and 10 whole black peppercorns, tied together in cheesecloth)
  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 Tbs. anchovy paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup homemade beef stock or reduced-fat, low-sodium beef stock, if needed

To marinate the beef, place the meat cubes in a large nonreactive bowl. Add the wine, carrot, celery, and onion. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Remove the beef from the marinade and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade, reserving both the vegetables and the liquid separately.

To cook the beef, heat a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbs. of the oil and heat until shimmering. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Working in two or three batches without crowding, sear the beef until nicely browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the paper towels; transfer the beef to the prepared baking sheet when done. (In this case, it’s okay to use the same baking sheet for the raw and cooked beef because the meat will be cooked further.) Return the beef to the Dutch oven.

 

Tie the vegetables from the marinade in cheesecloth with cotton twine. (This makes it easier to purée the sauce later.) Add the bundle of vegetables, bouquet garni, olives, orange zest, anchovy paste, garlic, and reserved marinade to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is tender, 3 to 3-1/2 hours.

Remove the bouquet garni from the Dutch oven and discard. Transfer the beef and olives with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Open the bundle of vegetables and add to the sauce. In the Dutch oven, using an immersion blender, purée the sauce and vegetables until smooth. Or, once the beef and olives are removed, ladle the sauce and vegetables into a blender a little at a time and purée until smooth. Cook the puréed sauce over medium-high heat until it coats the back of a spoon; if needed, thin with beef stock to achieve this consistency. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Return the beef and olives to the sauce and turn to coat. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Variations

Optional step: Sealing the pot with dough before oven-braising. Traditional, dramatic, and perhaps a bit overzealous, this technique is brilliant. The dough isn't edible (there's no salt or leavener), but it seals the casserole completely and prevents any moisture from escaping, therefore ensuring every last flavorful drop stays in the dish. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups all-purpose flour with 1 cup cold water until it forms a dough. Roll it on a lightly floured surface into a long snake. Put the cover on the Dutch oven and seal by pressing the dough where the pot and the lid meet. When ready to serve, loosen and break apart the dough with the back of a knife, and remove the lid in front of your guests.

Photo: Hélène Dujardin

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