Daube (a rich beef stew)
Daube is not normally considered to be a typical Christmas dish elsewhere in France. However, in our village in South-West France, it has become the tradition since the present butcher's father started to slaughter a cow each year just before Christmas. The animal was decorated and paraded through the village. At the time, beef was rarely on the family menu. People ate their own poultry and pork but they had little access to beef. Daube was also the perfect Christmas Eve dish as it could be prepared the previous day, and then set on the corner of the hearth to heat gently while the family went to Midnight mass. In spite of all the changes in lifestyles, eating habits and church attendance, in our village, daube is still a 'must' at Christmas.
Ingredients: (For 6-8 people)
2 kg top quality stewing beef
1 litre good red wine (or half wine/half water)
bacon rind to line the casserole dish
1/2 dl Armagnac (optional)
4 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 soup spoons of dripping or oil
1 bouquet garni
Photograph (c)2008 Valerie de Garine
Daube prior to simmering
Two days before serving, prepare the meat and marinade. Cut the meat into largish cubes. Put into an earthenware dish with 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped onion, salt, pepper and the bouquet garni. Cover with the red wine and the Armagnac. Leave to marinate all night, for at least 12 hours.
The following day, strain and dry the meat. Heat the dripping in a pan and fry the pieces of meat, putting them into an ironware casserole dish as soon as they change colour. Strain the marinade and add this fluid to the casserole, along with the peeled garlic cloves and the remaining chopped carrot and onion. Cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 1/2 hours. Half an hour before the end, add the skinned, chopped tomatoes.
It is best to do this on the day before serving, because daube is better when reheated.
Serve with boiled potatoes, pasta or rice.