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Daube de boeuf Provencale (Provencal beef daube with red wine and black olives)

Time 5 hours
Yields Serves 8
Daube de boeuf Provencale (Provencal beef daube with red wine and black olives)
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Bouquet garni

1

Tie the ingredients in a piece of cheesecloth. Set aside.

Daube

1

Trim the excess fat and cartilage from the beef steak and cut it in 1 1/2 -inch cubes. Cut the rind, if any, from the piece of bacon. Slice the bacon and cut the slices crosswise to make lardons.

2

Line a large (5 1/2 quart), heavy, ovenproof casserole with the bacon rind and put the beef shank on top. Add the beef cubes, lardons, onions, carrots and fennel, and pour the wine over.

3

Add the bouquet garni and push the bag down into the marinating ingredients. Spoon over the olive oil so they do not dry out. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 and up to 3 days.

4

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 400 degrees and put the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Remove the daube from the refrigerator while the oven is heating. Sprinkle the daube with the garlic and chopped tomatoes, add 2 teaspoons salt and one-half teaspoon pepper, and pour in enough water to almost cover the vegetables. Cover and cook in the oven until the broth is almost simmering, about 45 minutes.

5

Stir the meat and vegetables. Add the olives. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a cube of beef can be easily crushed between your finger and thumb, 2 1/2 to 3 hours more. The vegetables will be very tender.

6

Take the pot from the oven and lift out the slice of shank. It needs to be tender and falling off the bone, so will probably need more cooking: Put it in a medium saucepan and ladle in enough broth from the daube to cover the meat. Cover and simmer until the meat is almost falling apart, 30 to 45 minutes longer.

7

Remove the shank with the bone, and let cool until tepid. Return the broth to the casserole and discard the bouquet garni. Taste the broth. If the flavor is thin and needs reducing, ladle as much as possible into a saucepan and boil until the flavor is concentrated and the liquid is reduced by about half, to about 4 cups. Meanwhile, pull the meat from the bones of the shank and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Stir the meat gently into the casserole, with the marrow from the central bone. When the broth is reduced, stir it back into the daube, taste and adjust the seasoning.

8

If possible, prepare daube a day or two ahead and keep it, in its pot, in the refrigerator. Reheat it in a 350-degree oven, allowing at least an hour and probably more for heat to penetrate to the center. Just before serving, stir in the chopped parsley and check the seasoning again. Ladle the daube directly from the pot into shallow pasta bowls.

Use a red wine such as a vigorous, tannic Cote du Rhone or a robust Shiraz. Serve with macaroni or polenta.

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