A Hearty Stew for the Strong of Heart

Today's view from my kitchen window.

Now you can see why I titled this post the way I did. Though this may look gross to a lot of you, hang in here, it gets much better. Yes...those are pigs feet. I am going to show you how to make a classic French daube (pronounced dobe). This is a rich French stew named because it is made in a pot bellied earthenware daubiere. I use my big oval Le Crueset pot. I use different cuts of beef, three in total, to get different flavors and texture to the sauce. The daube glistens when prepared properly. This is so delicious and has such a hauntingly rich flavor that I always serve it with a crusyt french bread to scoop up all of the sauce.

This is a long recipe but very well worth the effort. you begin by cutting all of the beef into about 3/4 inch cubes. I use 6 lbs. of beef.

I slice 4 medium onions and halve 2 more and stud them with cloves.

You need two bottles of a hardy red wine.

After all the meat is cubed and the onions sliced, I place them all in the big pot. I add a bunch of fresh thyme and several bay leaves and grind a generous amount of fresh nutmeg.

Then I pour in both bottles of red wine. This gets covered with the lid and refrigerated for 2 days.

After the 2 days, I remove all of the meat and separate it from the onions. Remove the herbs and set them aside. Save the marinate.

All of the meat is then placed on paper towels.

Pour the marinate into another container and clean the pot.

Cover the meat with paper towels and dry thoroughly. The meat must be dry or it will stew and not brown correctly.

Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil. I also throw in a few tablespoons of bacon grease for added flavor.

First, saute all of the onions. When they start to brown on the edges, remove them to a bowl.

Set this aside for now.

This is the step that makes you want to run screaming into the night. I turn on a movie and just tune out to what I am doing. You must brown each cube on each side until a nice crust forms being careful not to scorch the meat. Do not add too much beef at one time or it will lower the temperature of the pot and the meat will stew. The meat must be crisp to lock in the flavor.

As you remove each batch, sprinkle it with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

This took well over an hour to complete.

Leave the leftover oil in the pan. There is a lot of flavor in this.

Now return the onions, along with the raw onions with the cloves.

Then add about 1/2 cup of tomato paste.

Pour in the reserved marinate.

This is one of my best tips in cooking. Whenever I prepare a beef dish, I always do this. Mince two or three anchovies in a dish with a teaspoon of coarse salt. Add this to the dish while cooking. The enzymes in the anchovies interact with the beef to bring out a very rich beef flavor. There is absolutely no anchovy flavor in the finished dish.

Add 4 beef marrow bones and 2 pigs feet. The gelatin in the pigs feet will thicken the stew.

Cut about 4 ounces of fat back from a package.

Soak it in hot water for a few minutes to remove some of the salt.

Then slice it in very thin strips and add it to the daube. This will disintegrate in the stew as it cooks.

Add about 12 carrots, peeled and cut into slices and about a pint of pitted Kalamata or Nyons olives.

Add the grated rind of two oranges.

Add one can of diced tomatoes. Stir this all together and cook in a 325 degree oven for 2 hours.

After 2 hours remove the pot from the oven. Scoop all the marrow out of the bones, mash it with a fork and return it to the daube. This will add a tremendous amount of flavor and will give the daube it's glossy sheen.

Return this to the oven and continue cooking it.

After another hour and a half it will look like this. Remove from the oven and let cool. Then refrigerate the daube overnight. This allows the flavor to develop and will allow you to remove the fat.

The next day, take it out of the refrigerator and remove the accumulated fat.

There will be quite a bit of fat to discard. The daube is far too greasy if you skip this step. Return the daube to a 300 degree oven to warm.

Meanwhile, bake some potatoes at 400 degrees.

I always bake my potatoes for mashing. Boiling potatoes leeches out flavor. When the potatoes are done, cut them in half.

Holding them in a potholder, squeeze them gently. The potato falls right out of the skin.

Give the potatoes a good mashing.

Warm about 4 cups of milk (this is for 12 baked potatoes), a stick of butter and a half of a block of an 8 oz. cream cheese.

Add some fresh ground pepper and salt. Mash this into the potatoes.

The daube is now nicely reheated.

Put a scoop of potatoes in a bowl and ladle the daube around them. Look how it glistens.

Add a nice piece of crusty French bread. The daube melts in your mouth and has an unbelievable depth of flavor. I have served this at dinner parties and people eat 2 and three bowls of it. it is hard to stop eating. The recipe takes 3 or 4 days to prepare.

People ask me all the time who eats all of the food I prepare. Not me! On a daily basis, my kitchen looks like this. Piles of containers are stacked all over my counters. My son (the blog tech) went home with all of these this morning. He and his girlfriend are big beef eaters and it will be her first experience eating daube. I suspect it will become a favorite of hers. My daughter will be stopping by in a bit to pick up her share. She and her boyfriend will have daube for dinner. I also made her favorite pasta salad in between daube making. My husband's mother, who has not spoken to me in 30 years (not good enough for her son), is 88 years old. She has been abandoned by everyone but my husband. Real healthy family dynamics going on there! So for the last couple of years, I prepare her food and send it to her with him. The old wench has the appetite of a linebacker!


I have eaten pigs feet when I was little, but never in this way. But it does look delicious!

Mean old ladies usually have good apetite :-) :-)
Have a great day now!
idrawpix said…
My my... that's truly a recipe for someone who loves to cook! And, I am one who have been wondering who eats all that delicious food. Your extended family is soooo lucky! Even the wench. ;-)
a.rogue said…
oh this looks delicious!!! I will have to try it when there is more than just me and hubby to feed though! I think I will file it under "make a crowd happy" recipes for future use...
Pricilla said…
got dry ice?
heh heh
Autumnforest said…
Not good enough? Jeez--other than walking on water, you do it all! You have a huge heart. There's no better way to show love than to nourish the soul and the body. You definitely do both on your blog! That looks like it could cure anything that ails you. Yummers!
Suzie said…
What a beautiful stew! I hope that your family appreciates all that goes into making it! But, you enjoy the journey, so that makes it worth while, all by itself!
Your MIL hasn't spoken to you in all of those years, and yet she eats the food that you prepare for her. I can see why she no longer has a close family, or friends, and find it rather ironic that out of everyone, you are still caring for her. If she were to do an honest self evaluation, she would see that you are her Guardian Spirit here on Earth.
Zedral Z said…
Gorgeous! Thanks for posting so many great pictures of the process. It looks and sound absolutely fantastic. Oh, and I'm extremely jealous of your Le Creuset! I so want some of that cookware. :)
Anna said…
what a process! looks delicious!
Em said…
Oh my. Kind of puts my boring beef stew to absolute shame. I am definitely going to bake my potatoes next time before mashing. What a great idea!!

Stopping by from SiTS to welcome you to the gang! Your MIL, well, I don't have much nice to say, so I'll be quiet now :-)
Em said…
Oh my. Puts my boring old beef stew to absolute shame. And I will definitely be using that baking the potato before mashing idea - how great!

Stopping by via SiTS to welcome you to the gang. That MIL of yours, well, I really don't have anything nice to say, so I'll be quiet now :-)
Em said…
Whoops - I thought blogger had eaten my comment, so you got that one twice. Sorry!!
Bronny said…
3-4 days to cook 1 meal??????? Yikes - the aroma must be almost too good to bear. It all looks so good - can I come to your house to taste test??
Thanks for sharing, though I don't think I could get past the trotters somehow!
Rue said…
Cooking for the masses - you really are amazing. Your Karma points must reach the stars by now! Especially for feeding a woman who won't even talk to you such beautiful food.
Anonymous said…
I noticed your Julia Child cookbook. Have you read the book Julie/Julia or seen the movie? I haven't seen the movie but the book was a hoot!

Also, anytime you're in Jersey and you wanna come to my house and cook, just ring my bell.
Toria said…
I was another one of those who wondered just how many people you were cooThking for each day :-). That looks delicious, I'm feeling hungry just looking at the pictures & I've just had breakfast!
I am exhausted just reading the recipe. But I did realize that I have a Julia Child's cookbook on my shelf, maybe I can find something less complex in it! Your family is so lucky, this includes your mother in law. The fact you cook with love for someone who won't speak to you is beyond loving.

TMCPhoto said…
Wow, 3 to 4 days to prepare!? It totally looks like it's worth it but I'm not sure that I could wrap my schedule around that just now.
You are a saint to provide your cooking to your mother-in-law. Even if she doesn't know or appreciate that, I'm sure her son does!
justjoycee said…
Now that's what I call cookin. I make pigs feet with garbanzo beans, Osso bucco(veal shank) with risotto rice, but nothing like this......amazing. By the way, I love having the name Joyce, how about you? Funny, JAZ is my father and brother"s initials. Thanks for stopping by justjoycee, I am now a Octoberfarm follower. Have a wonderful day.
Bridgett said…
As beautiful as this looks...I'm just not sure I could eat it knowing the ingredients.

Well, not to mention I no longer eat port or beef. LOL

Nevertheless, your passion for cooking never fails to impress and inspire me. It's amazing.

And I just have to tell you, when I read the last paragraph about your MIL, I about peed my pants laughing. :)

Carole said…
Hearty and so French. Merci beaucoup