We first had this tender beef stew in France after la chasse a courre (a mounted hunt for stag).  The beef was tender having stewed all day while we rode behind French hounds.  We like to serve this with a French baguette and baked potatoes, followed with a salad on the same plate, French style, to mop up the tasty sauce.  It can also be served shredded in ravioli, or on top of polenta.  The recipe serves 8-12 hungry hunters.    

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-5 lbs. prime beef, cubed & trimmed of fat or rump roast
  • 1 lb. shallots, peeled (or can substitute onion)
  • 4 -6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle, 750 ml, Burgundy wine
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb lardons or smoked bacon pieces
  • 1/2 oz. dried cepes (mushrooms), soaked for 1 hr in water (if dried morels are not available, you can use 1 lb. fresh porcini, just peel them the French way and use the buttons whole, while finely chopping the tougher stems) 
  • 6 pieces dried orange peel, see method
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • Fluer de sel
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 T. flour or cornflour, for thickening
  • 2 T. cognac
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes, drained & chopped finely ot 1 (8 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Marinade the beef with the herbs, shallots and garlic over night in the bottle of red wine.

2. Pull the beef, pat dry, and reserve the marinade.  Dust the beef with a dusting of flour. 

3. In a large skillet, sear and brown the beef over a high heat in the olive oil until nutty and brown.   The beef can be cubed or left whole.  If left whole, slice on the thick side when finished cooking.

4. Place browned beef into the crock pot or cast iron Le Creuset dutch oven.

5. Fry the lardons or chopped bacon pieces until crispy and golden brown. Drain and add to the beef.

6. Brown the shallots and garlic in the bacon fat and add to the daube.

7. Add all the other ingredients, except the cornflour, to the pot including the reserved wine.

8. (Add the canned tomatoes & sun dried tomatoes at this stage too if you are using them.)

9. If using a crock pot, cook on automatic or High for 4 hours and Low for up to 6 hours.  For conventional cooking – pre-heat oven to 175 degs C or 325 degs F or gas mark 3 and cook SLOWLY for approximately 4 to 6 hours; check towards the end, the meat should be extemely tender – you MUST not be tempted to cook it quicker, it will be tough!

10. Towards the end, blend and mix the cornflour with a tablespoons of warm water, then add to the beef, stirring well. It should not be TOO thick but just like a glaze or thickened jus. Add the cognac at this stage as well – sirring into the daube.

11. Serve with Green Beans, Mashed, Steamed or Pureed Potatoes during the colder months OR with a selection of salads, crusty French bread & Pasta during the warmer months. The excess sauce can be used or saved as a fantastic gravy or stock later!

12. THIS IS BETTER MADE 24 HOURS BEFORE EATING!

13. Freezes beautifully – I always make a large batch and then freeze some.

14. NOTE:If you cannot buy sun dried orange peel, make your own, it’s VERY easy! Peel some oranges with a swivel head vegetable peeler or parer, be careful not to peel the pith. Spread outside on a rack in the full sun and leave to dry for about 2-4 hours. Weather permitting of course – otherwise dry in an airing cupboard or a very LOW oven overnight.Store in an airtight jar for up to 2 years.

15. If you are really stuck – just grate some fresh orange peel into the daube, it will not have the same intensity as dried peel, but it will work!

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