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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10 Responses to “Weekend cooking – Provençal beef stew (daube)”

  1. hollywoodstein says:


  2. hollywoodstein says:

    I know I have leprosy after goring the golden calf, but,

  3. microdot says:

    I don’t know much about American meat anymore…They told me it was stewing beef…garrr! I live in beef country here surrounded by limousin cattle…I buy my beef directly from a farmer who raises and slaughters it…If you are ever in this neck of the woods, in Limoges, for a really memorable beef experience, check out Chez Alphonse at 5 Place de la Motte…In back of the Market!

  4. karmanot says:


  5. karmanot says:

    A cool early Spring is a great time for a beef stew. I make one with beef that’s left in the freezer after a long winter. Cube it and steam cook it for hours. I use the drippings and broth, and add more beef stock. Separately I caramelize several onions and mushrooms and deglaze with port. The Port adds a rich deep flavored taste, but not too sweet. (Dry Sherry also works) I add the vegi’s at the last minute adding carrots, rainbow kale stems,bell peppers (in different colors), cubes of winter squash or bits of yam , grade in lemon zest and add precooked white beans. I massage the Kale leaves with olive oil, chop finely and add at the end. Sometimes if there is some remaining left-over Costco roast chicken I’ll add that. Season with coarse black pepper, lavender salt, a tiny touch of nutmeg and dill. I call this concoction Hippie Casoulet.

  6. karmanot says:

    Oh dear micro, it sounds like you bought some beef put to gather with meat glue ( Google) It’s some protein than bonds scraps to look like a roast, sirlion tip, etc

  7. lilyannerose says:

    I do confess that my Midwest surfaced as I realized that not one potato went into that stew! Never would have considered using an orange. The best beef stew I’ve had was in a Mideast restaurant in San Francisco. There was a full flavored lightness to the seasoning that really worked and it was served over pearl couscous. Now I’m wondering if that awesome flavor was the result of using orange or something similar.

  8. Indigo says:

    Nice. I like that cooking style.

  9. microdot says:

    In my cheminee, here, I have a real daubiere, which I used 4 or five times a year …the last one I did had the daubiere lined with slices of lard…don’t freak, Americans…this is more like unsmoked bacon…a real daub takes at least 18 hours and one seals the daubiere with a dough paste. The long cooking is because you use tough beef. In Southern France, bull fighting was and still is a tradition and the daubes were made with the bulls. All of the great French beef stew type dishes are made for slow cooking. I do a great Boeuf au carotte that uses white wine and orange. I was in Ohio last year and tried to make it at my sisters house in Toledo. I went to the local Kroger and tried to buy the toughest beef possible…I even tried to ask the personelle behind the counter for assistance….I did my recipe as I normally do here in France, but the results?The American beef evaporated! Really bizarre! There were strange glutinous stringy morsels in a wonderfully flavored sauce…I felt bad, but I feel worse for all of the Americans who will never taste real beef!

  10. cdtooth says:

    I’m currently vegan, but when I go home to Ohio to visit my biological family I spend all day in the kitchen cooking food I think they’d like, and that will tempt the taste buds of my 83-year-old recalcitrant mother. Plus cooking is the one identity position of mine that they feel comfortable with (NOT long-term survivor of AIDS Queer artist dancer etc). Anyway, I was once obsessed with daubes (I cook meat for them), as it is the dish served at the end of Part One of “To the Lighthouse”:

    “An exquisite scent of olives and oil and juice rose from the great brown dish as Marthe, with a little flourish took the cover off. The cook had spent three days over that dish and she must take great care, Mrs. Ramsay thought, diving into the soft mass to choose an especially tender piece for William Bankes. And she peered into the dish, with its shiny walls and its confusion of savory brown and yellow meats, and its bay leaves and its wine and thought, This will celebrate the occasion…”

    Saving your video for the next time I’m Ohio-bound. The state that’s HI in the middle and round on both ends!

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