If you have about 14 hours and two days, you too can make a French daube. It seriously is worth the effort. Daube is a French recipe from Provence and is a very rich stew. It is said that women in Provence are great gossipers. The story goes that a woman was preparing a cheap cut of beef for her husband's dinner. She left the meat cooking while she went out to gossip with a neighbor. When she returned, the meat was almost burned so she covered it in red wine to try to save it. She went back out for more gossiping and when she came back again, the meat still looked burned. She added more wine, threw in some herbs and vegetables and stuck it in her oven. Hours later, when her husband came home, she served him a delectable meal. This sounds like a story made up by a man and I doubt it is the true history of the dish but it's a fun tidbit to go along with dinner.
You can use all sorts of beef cuts, I used a chuck steak and a bottom round roast. This totaled 8 lbs..
Slice it into steaks and then into cubes.
Slice 5 large white onions.
Cut another onion in half and stud it with cloves.
Place the meat and onions in a large bag or container and add 2 bottles of a hearty red wine.
Add several bay leaves, some thyme and rosemary. Place this in the fridge and marinate for 2 days, flipping it around occasionally.
After 2 days, separate the herbs and onions from the meat. Reserve the marinate and set it aside. Dry all of the beef thoroughly. When dry, sear each cube on every side in some olive oil. Add each batch to a bowl and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. When the meat has all been seared, add the onions to the pot and cook as you de-glaze the pan.
Add the marinate to the pan.
Add 1 small can of tomato paste.
Mash 3 anchovies in 1 tsp. of salt and add them to the pot. Do not skip this step.
I always add trotters to my daube. I remove them later and discard them but the gelatin in the feet thickens the stew and adds an underlying richness.
Add 4 marrow bones.
Add about 4 oz. of thinly sliced salt pork.
Add about 3 tablespoons of beef demi glaze.
Add all of the beef and the herbs back to the pot and add 10 sliced carrots and a head of grated garlic.
Add a very good grinding of fresh nutmeg.
Add the zest of 2 oranges.
Add 1 large can of pureed tomatoes.
And a pint of pitted kalamata olives. Place this in a 325 degree oven and braise it for 2-1/2 hours.
Remove the marrow bones and extract the marrow. Mash it into the daube. The marrow flavors the daube and adds a silky sheen to the finished dish.
Place the bones back in the pot. At this point you can taste it for seasoning. I added a bit more salt. You have to be careful with the slat due to the addition of the olives. However, I am serving this by itself, accompanied by bread alone, so you want it to have a salty edge to it. Do not under season.
Braise for another 2 hours. Remove the trotters and the bones and pick out the stems from all of the herbs.
Cool it for a while and then cover and place it in the fridge for 2 days. The flavors will continue to develop and you will be able to skim the fat off the top. The smell, as well as the taste, is mouthwatering. I will warm it up gradually the day of the dinner. I always serve this with some homemade French bread to sop up the juice. I made a compound garlic butter for the bread. This is simply one of the tastiest things I make. I made this for my niece and nephew a couple years ago and they devoured it so even kids like it. It's a special dish for special occasions.