Beef and mushroom daube

A daube is a casserole or stew, basically. The word is French and covers all manner of different dishes that all share a few basic ideas. They involve cooking meat, usually beef, for a longish period of time over a low heat, together with wine, vegetables, aromatics and other seasonings and herbs.

There are many variations, boeuf bourguignon being a well-known one, and they can contain a variety of different ingredients, such as salt pork or bacon lardons, mushrooms, small whole onions, anchovies, olives or prunes (particularly in the South-West around Agen). Pieces of orange peel, garlic, bay leaves, whole cloves and sticks of cinnamon (especially if you are using prunes) might all be possible aromatic ingredients. The most usual vegetables are carrots, onions, shallots and celery. Both red and white wine can be used, and you might also consider flaming the meat with brandy when you are sealing it off.

This was a pretty simple version, using slices of chuck steak, salt pork cut into lardons, a mirepoix of onion, celery and carrots, chopped tomatoes, red wine, water, dried thyme, salt, pepper and mushrooms (which had been pre-cooked in butter).

First, I fried off the lardons in olive oil and removed them from the pan. The slices of beef were then sealed in the same oil and also set aside. Next the mirepoix was sweated down before I added in the chopped tomatoes, which were ones from my not entirely successful plants in the garden. Then I added about two glasses of a basic red Côtes du Rhône and used this to deglaze the pan. Then I seasoned the pan and returned the beef and lardons, brought this to a boil, reduced the heat to the lowest possible gas and simmered the pan, covered for about two hours. Halfway through, I added some water to stop things from drying out and burning.

While I was cooking some rice to serve with the daube, I added in the mushrooms, checked the seasoning and allowed the liquid to evaporate a bit.

When the rice was done, I served the daube with chopped parsley as a garnish.

You could also serve this with pasta (macaroni would be traditional), wet polenta or mashed potatoes.

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