This beef stew from the south of France is country cooking at its best: bold, brash, and full-flavored. Could we translate the flavors of Provence to an American home kitchen?
Serve this French beef stew with egg noodles or boiled potatoes. If nišoise olives are not available, kalamata olives, though not authentic, can be substituted. Cabernet Sauvignon is our favorite wine for this recipe, but C˘tes du Rh˘ne and Zinfandel also work. Our favorite cut of beef for this recipe is chuck-eye roast, but any boneless roast from the chuck will work. Because the tomatoes are added just before serving, it is preferable to use canned whole tomatoes and dice them yourself--uncooked, they are more tender than canned diced tomatoes. Once the salt pork, thyme, and bay leaves are removed in step 4, the daube can be cooled and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Before reheating, skim the hardened fat from the surface, then continue with the recipe.
3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms , rinsed well
1 boneless beef chuck-eye roast (about 3 1/2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 ounces salt pork , rind removed
4 large carrots , peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds (about 2 cups)
2 medium onions , halved and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (about 4 cups)
4 medium cloves garlic , sliced thin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 bottle red wine (bold, such as a Cabernet)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
4 strips orange zest (from one orange), removed with vegetable peeler, each strip about 3 inches long, cleaned of white pith, and cut lengthwise into thin strips
1 cup nišoise olives , pitted and drained well
3 anchovy fillets , minced (about 1 teaspoon)
5 sprigs fresh thyme , tied together with kitchen twine
2 bay leaves
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) whole tomatoes , drained and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
See Illustrations Below: Key Ingredients for Daube Provenšal
1. Cover mushrooms with 1 cup hot tap water in small microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Lift mushrooms from liquid with fork and chop into 1/2-inch pieces (you should have about 4 tablespoons). Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer lined with 1 paper towel into medium bowl. Set mushrooms and liquid aside.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Dry beef thoroughly with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add half of beef. Cook without moving pieces until well browned, about 2 minutes on each side, for total of 8 to 10 minutes, reducing heat if fat begins to smoke. Transfer meat to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining oil and remaining meat.
3. Reduce heat to medium and add salt pork, carrots, onions, garlic, and tomato paste to now-empty pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Slowly add wine, gently scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add broth, water, beef, and any juices in bowl. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to full simmer. Add mushrooms and their liquid, orange zest, 1/2 cup olives, anchovies, thyme, and bay, distributing evenly and arranging beef so it is completely covered by liquid; cover partially and place in oven. Cook until fork inserted in beef meets little resistance (meat should not be falling apart), 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
4. Discard salt pork, thyme, and bay leaves. Add tomatoes and remaining 1/2 cup olives; warm over medium-high heat until heated through, about 1 minute. Cover pot and allow stew to settle, about 5 minutes. Using spoon, skim excess fat from surface of stew. Stir in parsley and serve.
STEP BY STEP: Key Ingredients for Daube Provenšal
1. SALT PORK: Cured (but not smoked) pork belly gives the stew richness and flavor. Buy a piece that's at least 75 percent meat, with a minimum of fat.
2. OLIVES: Use tiny, briny nišoise olives. Cook some of the olives with the stew, then add more just before serving to maximize their impact.
3. ANCHOVIES: No one will be able to detect their flavor, but anchovies add earthiness to this dish. Meaty Ortiz anchovies (in olive oil) won a test kitchen tasting.
4. RED WINE: Choose something bold, such as Cabernet, and simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours to cook off the raw flavors that an entire bottle contributes to the pot.
5. TOMATOES: Progresso whole tomatoes were the winner of a taste kitchen tasting. To preserve their lively flavor, add the drained tomatoes just before serving.