Sunday, January 11, 2009


I always find it interesting when I go on an improvisational streak and end up with what is considered a classic by someone else.

We'd picked up a decent-sized piece of beef (guaranteed French) at Leclerc (kind of a French Walmart - right down to the messy aisles and depressing flourescent lighting) with the intention of making a bourgignon. Got home and found that all the recipes we had for said bourgignon were way too fussy, so decided to make my own something with the cheap meat and cheap wine. The ex-Mme. Frenchie, who was served this for an impromptu lunch and who grew up in Provence, declared what I'd made a "daube."

Looked up what I did in Cook's Illustrated, and found that, though mine didn't have all the ingredients that theirs did, it was indeed a sort of daube.

Anyway, for posterity:

1 1/2 lbs beef (for last night's dinner, I used a bit of steak I got on "manager's special" at Stah), cut into bite-sized cubes

2 cups beef bouillion

2 cups good enough for drinking, but not that great red wine (last night's had a California Merlot); let's be reasonable, folks.

3-4 carrots, scrubbed and cut into coins about 1/2 inch thick)

(a handful or two of sliced mushrooms)

1 onion, diced

a clove or two of garlic, minced

a couple bay leaves if you have them. (The Frenchie has a couple laurel trees in his garden, so, we're spoiled. I had to use the jarred stuff here as, well, since I was already taking a chance by smuggling a bit of pate in, I wasn't going to press my luck by bringing a handful of tree leaves home as well. If one or the other was confiscated, I could handle it. Both would be a heartbreak).

2-3 T olive oil

Saute onion in olive oil until transparent. Add garlic and saute a bit until that's tender. Add beef. When cubes are browned on all sides, add carrots, the bouillon, bay leaves and simmer until carrots are tender. Add wine and simmer further until liquid is reduced. Serve with small boiled potatoes, noodles, good bread and a salad.

Serves four. If you can manage it, try to have leftovers. They're even better.

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