Boeuf en Daube Provençale

This quintessentially provençal dish is easy to prepare but just needs lots of time to simmer on the stove.

Ingredients
For the beef marinade
1.5kg/3lb 5oz beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat and cut into large 6cm/2½in chunks
salt, to taste
2 large onions, finely sliced
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm/½in rounds
2 sticks celery, cut into 1cm/½in slices
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bottle red wine
100ml/3½fl oz brandy or cognac
50ml/2fl oz red wine vinegar

For the bouquet garni
4 bay leaves
2 large sprigs thyme
few sprigs parsley
2 pieces pared orange zest
4 cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 x 4cm/1½in pieces cinnamon stick

For the casserole
4 tbsp olive oil
150g/5½oz bacon lardons
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
600ml/20fl oz beef stock
150g/5½oz black olives

To serve
300g/10½oz red camargue rice, cooked according to packet instructions

Method

Put the beef into a large fridge-friendly container. Sprinkle with salt, then add all the marinade ingredients.

Divide the ingredients for the bouquet garni in half and tie into two separate parcels of muslin. Add one of these to the marinade and set the other one aside. Cover and put in the fridge. Leave for at least six hours, but preferably overnight.

For the casserole, drain the meat, reserving the liquid and the rest of the marinade ingredients. Pat the meat dry and brush off any garlic.

Heat half of the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the meat in batches until well browned. Deglaze the base of the frying pan with a little of the marinade liquid and set aside.

In a large casserole, add the remaining olive oil. Add the lardons and fry on a high heat for a few minutes until crisp and brown. Add the onion and reduce the heat to medium. Fry for around 10 minutes, or until the onion has softened and lightly coloured. Stir in the tomato purée. Add the beef to the casserole and stir to coat.

Strain the marinade and pour over the liquid along with the deglazing liquid from the frying pan and the second bouquet garni.

Bring to the boil and simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by around a third.

Add enough beef stock so that the beef is just covered. Return to the boil, then turn down the heat to low. Cover, and simmer for around three hours.

If you are able to, leave overnight – cool and leave in the fridge to chill. Once chilled, it will make skimming off any fat much easier. Otherwise, just skim off some of the fat which will collect at the top.

Add the olives, then simmer uncovered for a further hour to reduce down the sauce. Serve with red camargue rice.

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