Daube (beef stew to you)

My god I think I’m getting old. I just started writing “it’s that time of year again…”, which I’m sure is the sort of thing I used to think old people said, along with “it’s a bit nippy” and “why did I come in here again?”, not to mention*, and this really is the worst, mixing up the names of the kids. I remember how irksome it was when my parents did it to me (and I had two sisters, imagine the embarrassment) but now I’m doing it myself. Put me down now please.

But it is though isn’t it? It’s the time of year when you’re allowed to start eating buttery, creamy, oily, salty, rich food that is, for the rest of the year, deemed too unhealthy. And I’ve been wanting to do this one for ages – it’s the perfect meal for a weekend lunch in winter. And it goes so well with the cabbage I did the other day.


Start by flouring the beef (use stewing or braising steak) and frying it in in small batches in a hot pan with olive oil. Make sure the meat is nicely caramelised before you put it into a large casserole. Then take a couple of handfuls of shallots and fry them gently with 4-5 roughly chopped cloves of garlic, followed by (if you like) a few handfuls of chestnut mushrooms each cut in half. Put these into the casserole and then deglaze the pan with a glass of French red wine – preferably from provence, but it’s not that important. Now pour in the rest of the bottle (not taking a cheeky little glass because you’re oh so naughty, unless of course you’re a mediocre celebrity chef).

Now all you have to is add fresh herbs – I’d go for bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme and some seasoning – only a tiny bit of salt right now – you don’t want to dry out the beef.

Put the lid on the casserole and put it in a low oven (150c) for 2.5 hours. The picture below is before it went into the oven.

Once the daube is ready, make sure you season it to taste before you serve – it will certainly need salt.

Now, there are loads of things you can serve this with. When we used to eat it in France they would serve it with a bowl of buttery penne with a few sprigs of parsley thrown on top – which was lovely. You can also go with mashed potato (with sweet potato and plenty of butter, milk, cream, grainy mustard and seasoning). Of course, the cabbage is a must if you go with the spud option…Or even red cabbage…

Whatever you do with it – they’re going to love it. And, as ever, you’ll get loads of leftovers to keep you going for the rest of the week…

OK – I realise it’s somewhat reminiscent of dog food in the picture, but please trust me, it takes really good…


*I think “not to mention” is probably one too, no?

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