Friday, March 19, 2010

La Daube Provençale

I recently finished Kim Sunée's memoir, A Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home. I'm not going to give you a full book report — I never liked doing those. But the gist of the story is this: Born in South Korea, Sunée was adopted and raised in New Orleans. She leaves when she is barely out of her teens and eats, lives and loves in Europe for ten years before returning to the U.S. Her story of elaborate feasts and international travel is tempered with melancholy because she lacks a sense of home and belonging.

Recipes are scattered through the book. I thought I'd try this recipe for beef stewed in red wine since it is a different, brighter take on beef stew and our freezer is still stocked with larger cuts of beef from Old Pine Farm. The citrus and olive flavors are a welcome change and the meat just melted into extreme tenderness. It is best made a day ahead for all the flavors to meld. It was probably our last wintery stew since spring officially arrives this weekend!

La Daube Provençale/Braised Beef
Adapted from Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunée

1 pound beef chuck, trimmed of fat and cubed
2 medium onions, quartered, divided
1-2 carrots, cut lengthwise and into thirds
Bouquet garni (such as a few sprigs of parsley, thyme and/or rosemary)
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry red wine
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 slice thick-cut bacon, diced
2-3 Tb flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped
2-inch piece of orange rind
1 tsp orange zest
Juice of one-half orange
3/4-1 cup beef stock
1 Tb black olive tapenade
Garnishes: black olives and fresh parsley

Combine beef and one of the onions and next 4 ingredients in a large nonreactive bowl. Let marinate 5 to 6 hours. (You can marinate overnight, but wine flavor will be much stronger.)

Remove meat with a slotted spoon and drain well. Reserve the marinade and vegetables/herbs separately.

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Heat bacon on medium high in an enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven until fat begins to render, about 5 minutes. Spread flour in a shallow plate and season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge beef in flour, adding more flour as needed. Add beef to pot and let brown, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Add salt, pepper, garlic and a 2-inch strip of orange rind and stir. Add reserved wine marinade and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and let wine reduce, skimming fat, for about 15 minutes.

Add beef stock or water just to cover meat, stir and add reserved vegetables and bouquet garni. Stir once more, cover and bake for about 2-3 hours, until meat is tender. Check every once in a while and add more beef stock of water if it is being absorbed too quickly.

Remove any fat with a spoon. Remove orange rind, bay leaf and bouquet garni and discard. Add orange zest and juice and stir. Let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Reheat on medium until warm. Stir tapenade into sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with large pasta shells or polenta and garnish with olives and parsley.

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