How’s that for a comeback? I’ve been gone from this blogging world for well over two months now (eek!), but I figured this comforting deliciousness is as good a reason as any to return. I may have lost my readers, but I’m gaining a recipe. This needs to be recorded before I forget what I did.
So here I am. And here it is.
But first, une petite histoire…
Paris, 2006. Norma, Helen, my mom, myself. Chez Agnès. We go for dinner, sent by our guru, Rick Steves. Tiny bistro, one woman cooking, serving, hostessing, you get the idea, and her dog. “Asseyez-vous” (Sit there). Intimidated, I beg myself, please don’t let my french fail me now. Agnès does not allow us to order a Côte du Rhone. “Non, le Bordeaux.” Bordeaux it is. We order, we wait, I speak hesitant French. Enter young American couple. Agnès, impatient (well, she is alone there), shouts across the room to me, “you, who speaks French, tell him this daube has been cooking since noon!”
And with that, we are in. We are the last to leave, she and her Corsican neighbor (le terreuriste she lovingly calls him) join us for wine and laughs. She bids us adieu with small tins of foie gras. One of the top five magical evenings of my life was the result of translating a statement about this beef stew.
I have no idea if Agnès and her pooch are still there.
But like I said, here I am and here it is. Maybe it’ll warm you.
- two pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 inch pieces (fat removed)
- 4 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 8 (or so) carrots, cut into thick slices
- 2 cups Côtes du Rhône wine (any good red wine)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 package cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- Zest of 1 orange
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence (or dried thyme)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- handful chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
- a few glugs olive oil
1. The night before, marinate the beef pieces, one of the sliced onions and half of the carrots in the wine, vinegar, and bay leaves.
2. The next day, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and pat the beef pieces dry, reserving the marinade and vegetables. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over a medium flame and brown the bacon pieces until crisp. Remove to a plate and brown the meat in batches a couple of minutes per side. Remove to a plate, add more olive oil as needed and repeat.
3. Once beef is browned, add the reserved marinade mixture to the pot, along with the beef, bacon, the remaining onion, smashed garlic and herbes de Provence or thyme. Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add a couple of cups or so of water but do not to submerge the beef completely, rather make sure the liquid comes about 2/3 up the beef. Add the orange zest, nestle the rosemary sprigs in the liquid, cover and place in the oven.
4. Check the liquid level after an hour to make sure not too much has evaporated. Add water as needed.
5. After another hour, add the tomatoes, mushrooms, and the rest of the carrots. Sprinkle with the flour and mix in.
6. Return to oven for another hour or so.
7. Remove from oven, skim fat from top and add chopped parsley. Serve with Melissa’s macaronade, which I think definitely benefits from the doubling of cheese.
This may or may not be summer, as opposed to winter, in Provence. Okay, it is.