Well, we’ve officially settled into winter and are enjoying all the wonderful comfort foods that come with the season. Think cheese, and lots of it. Although not much happens in Provence during these few chilly months, we’re making the most of our most trusted remedy to beat the winter blues… a well-stocked kitchen.
Between the rain, icy winds, and dropping temps (last weekend we hit -3°C), you won’t find many folks venturing out-of-doors for very long. And like most good French traditions, when the going gets tough, the tough get cookin’. And that’s just what we’ve been doing chez nous.
My all-time favorite French dish, which I consumed large amounts of last summer in Dijon (much to the chagrin of French friends, ie. the seasonal “food police”), is boeuf bourguignon.
Not to be outdone by their northern neighbors, Provence has a similar dish called a daube. We made our daube with beef, but another, very good, option is wild boar (which is rightly impossible to find at our local supermarche). Both versions include heaps of red wine and plenty of black olives. There’s also the possiblity to add a full orange to the “stew”, but it ended up being a bit overpowering in our daube.
Whenever we’ve had daube in restuarants in the south, it’s been served with polenta – although another popular choice is egg noodles. Whatever you decide to pair it with, it’s quite rightly one of the great comforts of a long winter.
Boeuf Daube Provençale
2 teaspoons olive oil
12 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped carrot
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Dash of ground cloves
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1. Preheat oven to 300°.
2. Heat a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add reserved garlic, beef, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf), and bring to a boil.
3. Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf.
recipe credit: my recipes / cooking light and a parmesan polenta recipe from the Food Network.