#BookCook Boeuf au Daube from To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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 a specially tender piece for William Bankes. And she peered into the dish, with its shiny walls and its confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats and its bay leaves and its wine . . . ‘It is a triumph,’ said Mr. Banks, laying his knife down for a moment. He had eaten attentively. It was rich; it was tender. It was perfectly cooked.”

Something a little different this week.

Virginia Woolf had a way with words. The words in the above paragraph taken from To The Lighthouse are so succulent, so unctuous that they are practically dripping off of the page. It is a credit to her writing considering most times Woolf had to be coaxed to eat something due to her degrading mental health. I wonder what a writer like her would have accomplished had she not lived 100 years ago and got proper care for her mental health? We may have had more than the 8 books and a few dramas that she was able to pen.

Today’s recipe is Boeuf au Daube which translates to French Beef Burgundy or Beef Stew. The below recipe was taken from the fantastic website genius kitchen . 

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READY IN: 25hrs 30mins SERVES: 8-12


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  1. Marinade the beef with the herbs, shallots & garlic overnight in the bottle of red wine.
  2. Drain and put the wine to one side.
  3. In a large skillet or frying pan, sear & brown the beef pieces over high heat in the olive oil until nutty & brown. Do not overcrowd the pan!
  4. Place browned beef into the crockpot or cast iron Le Creuset Casserole Dish.
  5. Fry the lardons or chopped bacon pieces until crispy & golden brown. Drain & add to the beef.
  6. Brown the shallots & garlic in the bacon fat & add to the beef & bacon.
  7. Add all the other ingredients, except the cornflour, to the crock pot including the reserved wine.
  8. (Add the tinned tomatoes & sun-dried tomatoes at this stage too if you are using them.).
  9. Cook on automatic or High for 4 hours and Low for up to 6 hours.
  10. (For conventional cooking – pre-heat oven to 175 degs C or 325 degs F or gas mark 3 and cook SLOWLY for approximately 4 to 6 hours; check towards the end, the meat should be extremely tender – you MUST not be tempted to cook it quicker, it will be tough!).
  11. Towards the end, blend & mix the cornflour with a couple of spoons of the stock in the crock pot & add to the beef, stirring well. It should not be TOO thick but just like a glaze or thickened jus. Add the cognac at this stage as well – stirring into the daube.
  12. Serve with Green Beans, Mashed, Steamed or Pureed Potatoes during the colder months OR with a selection of salads, crusty French bread & Pasta during the warmer months. The excess sauce can be used or saved as a fantastic gravy or stock later!
  14. Freezes beautifully – I always make a large batch and then freeze some.
  15. NOTE: If you cannot buy sun-dried orange peel, make your own, it’s VERY easy! Peel some oranges with a swivel head vegetable peeler or parer, be careful not to peel the pith. Spread outside on a rack in the full sun and leave to dry for about 2-4 hours. Weather permitting of course – otherwise dry in an airing cupboard or a very LOW oven overnight.Store in an airtight jar for up to 2 years.
  16. If you are really stuck – just grate some fresh orange peel into the daube, it will not have the same intensity as dried peel, but it will work!
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