Boeuf en Daube

Sometimes you come across food descriptions in literature written so well, so powerfully, you can’t help but wonder does it taste good cause it sounds delicious, quickly followed by the thought, could I make that?

There are many variations of the French dish Boeuf en Daube, highlighted and brought to popularity by Virginia Woolf’s To The LighthouseI am by no means a French cuisine expert, but I did find a recipe that I could work with. I will share that with you today. For more sophisticated versions of the recipe, search “boeuf en daube à la Provençal,” or try one of these two links from The Guardian and

I made this dish last night as it was Labor Day and I had a few luxurious hours to myself. My home is still infused with the smells of red wine and herbes de provence, and it is a truly glorious smell.

Beef Stew with Red Wine (a simpler take on boeuf en daube)

Servings: 3 people (this recipe is easily doubled for 6 servings)
Total time: 2 1/2 hours

1.5lbs boneless beef chuck roast
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 slices of thick cut bacon, diced
shallots (4 small or 3 medium) sliced thin or diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1c red wine
7.5 ounces (1/2 can) canned tomatoes, peeled and seeded
3 slices of orange zest (2in long)
1/2lb carrot, peeled and cut to small chunks
1/4c coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
beef broth, as needed
salt and pepper to taste

This is a one pot dish that requires a Dutch Oven. A dutch oven is simply a heavy cooking pot with a lid that is compatible to oven temperatures. You can find them inexpensively at places like Ross, Walmart, Home Goods, etc.

1. Position a rack to the lower third of the oven, preheat to 325*.
2. Prep the beef. Cut the beef apart into 1.5-2in chunks, working along the natural seems of the beef. Trim off any thick layers of fat. Salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in the dutch oven pot. Cook the diced bacon to a crisp, 5-6 minutes. Remove the cooked bacon from the pot and set aside. Do not remove the oil.
4. In a single layer, add the beef and brown both sides, 5 minutes each side.
5. Remove the beef from the pot and set on a container that will also hold the juices of the beef as it rests.
6. Drain off all but 1 tbsp worth of oil from the dutch oven.
7. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute.
8. Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbes de provence, saute for 1 minute.
9. Add the wine, stirring and scraping to dislodge any caramelized drippings, also called de-glazing the pan. Do not remove the drippings – this is added flavor. Bring to a simmer or low boil.
10. Poor in the liquid from the canned tomatoes and using your hand, crush the tomatoes (if they aren’t pre-diced) to pieces and add to the pot.
11. Add the orange zest.
12. Add the beef (and any accumulated juices from the resting beef), the bacon, and the carrots to the pot.
13. Place the lid on the pot and transfer the dutch oven to the oven.
14. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the softness of the meat. STIR every 45 minutes and add beef stock as needed. If the beef stew is too thick, add beef stock 1/4c at a time. It should not be a soup, nor should it be without liquid.
15. Stir in parsley before serving.
16. Consider serving with rice, a coarse bread, or mashed potato.

The flavors are amazing…but there was something about the aroma of the house that guaranteed I would be making this dish again. The smell put me in mind of winter, a cozy wrapped-up-in-a-blanket-with-a-fire-going feeling.

My husband had two servings and asked when I would be making it again.
Austin, Texas