Weekend cooking – Provençal beef stew (daube)

As we move out of the cold winter and into the not cold, but not warm between seasons period, daube is the perfect meal. In France, Spain, Italy and Greece you will find similar but different recipes for stew. Beef is the most common though you may also find lamb being used.

Whichever meat you use, it will be the cheap stuff. It needs to have enough fat on it to keep it moist and have flavor. Below they use beef cheeks (a very tasty piece of meat) and he keeps the meat in large pieces. When I cook it, I prefer cutting it down into smaller pieces but it’s a matter of personal preference.

A good friend that I cook with sometimes often stresses out with recipes. He’s always worried about not following a recipe and somehow messing up the meal. Meals can be messed up but I’m never worried about that happening. I’ve been cooking daube for so long that I have no idea about quantities any longer. I keep an eye on things and then go with whatever proportions I want to use on that particular day.

A few notes though on the video below. In this case he adds in the olives early and yes, that will make for a nice taste though many cooks will take them out and add fresher olives or vegetables cooked for less time at the end for the purpose of presentation. They can all give a great taste but the appearance is not always there after a few hours of cooking. Adding orange is a really nice option and something you see often enough in France.

While visiting my cousin in Bergamo, Italy, I had a very similar dish though it was served with polenta, which I adore. I can’t recall the name of it in Italy but their stewed beef is worth trying, especially served with polenta. I also enjoyed a delicious beef stifado in Thira, Greece last year (photo below) that was worth repeating. The stifado had lots of onions as well as orange and some cloves so it was sweeter but ultimately similar to a daube.

Beef stifado

Beef stifado


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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