Patricia Wells’ recipe for Beef Daube ( a robust French beef stew from Provence) is a light, bright ~ dare I say fruity? ~ version braised with white wine, onions, tomatoes, and herbs.
When I’m meal planning for a cozy family dinner or a gathering of friends in the cooler months my mind almost always drifts to my mom’s beef stew. I grew up with this comforting dish and default to it often. Plus I can prep it ahead which is such a benefit when I want to sit and socialize and not be tied up in the kitchen. Today I’m keeping all that comfort and convenience but breaking out of the mom’s recipe rut with a French beef stew from Provence called daube. Wine, tomatoes, and herbs give this slow cooked Mediterranean beef stew terrific flavor. Take that, chilly night!!
what is daube (daube de boeuf)?
Beef daube (pronounced doughb) is a classic French beef stew from Provence. Chunks of beef are slow-cooked with wine, aromatic vegetables, garlic, and herbs. The long, slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld, creating a rich and savory stew. Daube can be served with mashed potatoes, noodles or pasta, or polenta ~ but always with crusty bread for soaking up every bit of flavorful sauce.
Bourguignon vs daube
Beef Bourguignon and Beef Daube are both classic French stews made with slow-cooked beef and wine. Beef Bourguignon, from Burgundy, includes beef, carrots, onions, and mushrooms, flavored with thyme and bay leaves. It is made with red Burgundy wine. Beef Daube, from Provence, incorporates similar ingredients along with Provençal herbs like thyme and rosemary. Daube can be made with red or white wine. It’s sometimes made with pork belly, olives, orange, or spices like juniper berry, cinnamon, and anise. Both dishes are rich and hearty, often served with accompaniments like potatoes, bread, or pasta.
ingredients for beef daube
This recipe is from Patricia Wells, an American food writer and expert in French cuisine. She’s lightened up traditional daube with white wine instead of the more common red. There is no added brandy, bacon, olives, or heavy spices in her version that can weigh down other daube recipes.
- stewing beef
- Don’t use a lean cut of beef for this recipe. See below for specific cuts to buy, or purchase a standard packaged stewing beef..
- olive oil
- dry white wine
- daubes can be braised with red or white wine, but white wine gives this recipe its special light fruity character. Use Chardonnay or another wine you like to drink.
- whole canned tomatoes
- do look for San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy.
- bouquet garni of fresh herbs
- parsley, thyme, tarragon, and bay leaves. Note these are fresh, not dried.
- salt and pepper
what cut of beef to buy
The beef doesn’t not have to be expensive, in fact inexpensive cuts like chuck, round, boneless short ribs or brisket are ideal because the long cooking tenderizes them. These cuts have enough fat and connective tissue to break down during the long cooking process, resulting in a tender and succulent stew. Buy them ready-cut or ask the butcher to cut the meat into 2-3 inch cubes for you. Patricia recommends larger chunks of beef because they’ll stand up to the long braising, and they shrink down as they braise.
the right pan
I like to use enameled cast iron Dutch oven for this stew. Cast iron holds the heat evenly and allows me to get and keep a low simmer for the braise. A light interior color helps me see the exact level of browning I’m getting on my meat, to avoid burning.
how to make beef daube, step by step
step 1. brown the beef
Working in batches (at least three!) take time with each batch to get all sides of the beef browned. Be careful to moderate your heat so the meat doesn’t scorch or burn.
step 2. Add wine and reduce
Add a bottle of dry white wine and scrape the browned flavor bits from the pan as you bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 7 minutes to reduce the wine and cook out some of the alcohol.
step 3. Add back the meat along with the rest of ingredients
Add the meat, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs to the pot. Bring back to a simmer.
step 4. Cover and simmer
Cover and simmer very gently for 2-3 hours until tender. Be sure to check often to make sure your pot is not simmering or boiling too hard, you want a very slow gentle simmer: barely bubbling, but bubbling.
step 5. Reduce the sauce
Strain out the meat and veggies and set aside, then boil the sauce down to reduce and thicken it. Sometimes I use an immersion blender to blend some of the onions and tomatoes into the liquid for a gravy with more body. If you want to add carrots or small potatoes, this is a good time to add them, they’ll cook as the sauce reduces.
step 6. Re-combine and serve
Add the meat and veggies back to the pot and reheat. Serve over noodles, potatoes, or polenta.
how we serve beef daube
Patricia Wells suggests serving the daube in wide shallow bowls, which we did. That helps corral the sauce whether you serve it with:
- egg noodles
- mashed potatoes
- cauliflower mash for a lower carb option
what you can expect from this beef daube
The meat is tender, like you’d expect from a long braised stew, but the thing that surprised me was the wonderful sauce. The combination of white wine and tomatoes cooking down and concentrating with the onions and herbs over several hours results in a bright gravy unlike any other stew I’ve had.
make ahead instructions
Daube is perfect for making ahead! Like most stews this daube will taste wonderful the next day. Be sure to let it cool completely before refrigerating. Rewarm on the stove when ready to serve. If there is a layer of solidified fat on the stew, you can remove it first.
slow cooker daube instructions
I suggest following the recipe on the stove top through step 3, then transfer to your slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low. A slow cooker cooks at approximately 200F on low, and 300F on high. I find the high setting is a little too hot for daube.
daube in the oven instructions
Follow the recipe on stove top through step 3 then transfer to a low oven. 250F to 275F works best for most ovens. I always check periodically to make sure the stew is very gently simmering and adjust the temperature accordingly. It’s important to cover the dish tightly to prevent evaporation. You’ll want to bring back to the stove top for steps 5 and 6.
Patricia Wells’ Beef Daube
- Large Dutch oven or braising pot
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 lbs stewing beef cut into 2 inch pieces , Patricia recommends beef shoulder, chuck, blade, neck, rump, or brisket.
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 bottle dry white wine such as Chardonnay
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 16 ounces canned plum tomatoes, with juices
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- bouquet garni of parsley, thyme, tarragon, and bay leaves* tied with kitchen string.
- 6 carrots, peeled and sliced into batons
- Peel and cut the onions in half, lengthwise. Cut each half, croswise, into thin slices. Set aside.
- Add the oil to your heavy Dutch oven or braising pot and heat until hot. Working in 2-3 batches, brown your meat on all sides. Take your time with each batch and make sure to get all sides of the meat. Moderate your heat as needed to get a nice golden sear on the meat without burning. Remove the meat to a plate and season well with salt and pepper.
- There should be a thin layer of fat in the pan. (If there is an excess of fat, drain some off.) Add the wine and bring it up to a boil, scraping all of the brown bits from the pan with a silicone spoonula as the liquid heats up. Let the wine bubble away for about 7 minutes to cook off some of the alcohol and reduce down a bit. Whisk in the mustard.
- Add the beef and any accumulated juices back into the pan. Add the tomatoes and juice to the pan, squishing them apart with your clean hands as you add them. Add the onions, garlic, and bundle of fresh herbs. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer over very low heat for 2-3 hours until the meat is fork tender. Check often to make sure the stew is at a very gentle simmer. My stew took three hours.
- Remove the herb bundle and bay leaves. Transfer the meat and veggies to a plate and then bring the sauce up to a boil to reduce down by about a third. This will take about 10 minutes. If you want to add carrots to your stew you can cook them in the sauce as it reduces, now.
- Return the meat and veggies to the sauce and reheat through. Serve the daube in wide shallow bowls with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or polenta. Crusty bread is nice, too.
more classic stews
- Easy Cassoulet
- The Best Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon
- Dublin Coddle ~ a quick cooking Irish stew!
- Instant Pot Irish Stew
- Easy Meat Lovers Chili