I grew up Greece with a mother as obsessed with cooking and food as I am now. She was (and is) a fantastic home cook able to whip up an impressive dinner out of whatever was seasonally available. But rather than stick to the many wonderful traditional Greek recipes, she had a library full of cookbooks from all over the world and would take inspiration from French, American and English recipes. This Provençal Beef Daube was a regular feature during the Autumn months, a wonderfully warming stew full of flavour.
I have carried on the tradition of cooking food from all over the world, mixing up flavours and stealing ideas from cookbooks in magpie like fashion. This stew has not changed much since my childhood however, except I add whatever vegetables I have to hand. The one essential in this recipe is prunes – they add a real depth of flavour and sweetness to the dish. I also threw in chestnuts, parsnips and a little apple and serve it with celeriac mash. Celeriac is a bit of an ugly beast, but it makes a velvety mash that’s got a lot more character, and fewer calories, than potatoes.
I guarantee this is a dish you will fall in love with and make again and again. Like most stews, all the hard work is done by your oven while you sit back with a glass of red wine and enjoy the wonderful fragrance of the stew… I am positive this can be made in a slow cooker as well – will make sure to update the recipe once I test it out in mine.
Provençal Beef Daube
- Preheat the oven to 160C (320F).
- Put the flour on a large plate and season liberally with salt and pepper. Toss the beef cubes in the flour until they are lightly coated.
- Add a good splash of oil in a large casserole dish and brown the beef cubes over medium high heat. Don’t crowd the beef in the pan as it will steam rather than brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add a splash of stock to the pan and scrape any sticky flour/beef bits with a wooden spoon.
- Add the chopped shallots, and a splash more oil if needed, and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Add the prunes, carrots, parsnips, garlic, apple, chestnuts and bay leaves and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, adding stock if the pan is dry.
- Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar and orange peel. Add the beef and pour in the stock and wine.
- Bring to the boil, cover the casserole and put in the oven for 1 1/2 –2 hours.
- Remove from the oven, check the seasoning and remove the bay leaves.
- While the stew is cooking, make the mash. Put the celeriac, parsnip and garlic in a pot, and pour in enough water to cover the vegetables.
- Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.
- Drain and put the vegetables in a Vitamix or food processor together with the butter and a good glug of double cream. Blitz until smooth, adding a little more cream if the mash is too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the mash between your plates and top with the stew. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.