Thursday, April 29, 2010

Daube de Boeuf á La Provençale

I’m still on my Julia Child kick. Actually, it’s turning into more of an obsession. After all, ‘too much of a good thing’ is, in my opinion, hardly enough.

Last night’s recipe was Daube de Boeuf which is a casserole of beef with wine and vegetables. Then, I saw that Julia had provided a variation, Daube de Boeuf á La Provençale which included the addition of anchovies, capers and garlic. Anything with anchovies, and I’m on board. Besides, life’s too short to overlook the variations.

As usual, you begin by cutting the beef into cubes and chopping the onions.

Julia calls for fresh tomatoes that are skinned, seeded and chopped. I was tempted to bung in a can of chopped tomatoes, but I followed her recipe. To skin the tomatoes, drop them in boiling water until the skins begin to pull away, plunk them in cold water and slip their skins right off.

Dealing with fresh tomatoes is a tedious and lonely affair. . .

Marinate the beef in white wine along with the carrots, onions, and herbs.

As with many recipes, it calls for one bay leaf.

Okay, let’s talk for a moment about this ‘one bay leaf’ thing. For the life of me, I could never see how one dried up leaf can impart any flavor at all. I’d be willing to bet that if you made a recipe with one bay leaf and one without, no one would be able to tell the difference. Really.

So, I pulverized the bay leaf in a coffee grinder that I use just for spices.

Okay, I got ‘the bay leaf thing’ off my chest. . .

Julia says to marinate the beef for three hours. It was getting late so I let it marinate long enough for me to watch Modern Family. I realize that such blatant disregard for Julia’s work should be a felonious offense, but I hadn’t read the recipe ahead of time as closely as I should and the three-hour marinade came as a surprise.

After the marinating is complete, remove the beef, dust with flour and set aside. Now, you begin layering everything in a casserole beginning with bacon. (Always a good beginning.)

Bacon, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, beef. . .
Bacon, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, beef. . .
Bacon, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, beef. . .

Pour the white wine marinade over it all, enough beef stock to cover and shove it in the oven for 2 ½ hours. Your dwelling will be infumed with a heavenly scent.

Oh, did I tell you that my kitchen still has the original cabinets from 1964? They’re yellow, metal cabinets. At first, they’re the most hideous things ever, but the retro appeal is something I’d never want to part with.

Toward the end of the cooking, you mash together a tin of anchovies, capers, olive oil, white wine vinegar and garlic. Mix that in and bake it for another half hour.

At the end, whisk in butter.

While this dish was not as appealing as the boeuf bourguignon or the chicken fricassee, to me anyway, I could not stop eating it. Nor did a take a photo of the final product. (I can update that later.)

What I love about Julia's recipes is that they always come out perfect. There's never any need to "adjust seasonings" or "thicken if necessary." To be honest, working from her book is the first time I have ever followed a recipe. The woman has done her homework and I love what I'm learning -- about cooking, about French food, and about myself.

There’s plenty of daube left. It makes a huge amount.

My neighbors will be well-fed.

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At 6:33 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

Your neighbors will also be very happy and grateful. *smiles* It sounds YUM and I'm excited to try it! :)

At 8:36 AM , Blogger Bob said...

I'm with you on the bay leaf.
It's one of those things I just don't "get", like Ashton Kutcher's appeal.

At 10:52 PM , Blogger Madeline said...

Wish I was your neighbor! Love the kitchen - are those cabinets really yellow or, are they harvest gold? Either way - I love them. I wouldn't replace them either.

Bay leaves - always a mystery! I usually put 2-3 in spaghetti or stew but I break them in half in hopes of releasing more flavor. Fresh ones are stronger but then you don't always have them handy when you want them (like the dried ones) but they'll last a while in the fridge.

I keep bay essential oil to mix with other oils in my burner - smells awesome (of course bayberry candle's are my favorite at Christmas).

Can't wait to hear how the dinner went tonight!

At 9:42 AM , Blogger William V. Madison said...

One mystery solved: The longer you let your bay leaf marinate, the more flavor it has, even when it's one of those elderly, dried ones that's been sitting in your pantry since the Eisenhower Administration.

That said, however, I usually skip the stuff when it's called for, or else go into the garden to get fresh. On account of bay laurel is what separates us from the neighbors.


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