Really craving the Spring warmth to stick around for the long spell, it was shaping up to be probably one of the last cold Sundays of the season so we took “Big Red,” our large enamel coated cast-iron Le Creuset pot, for a final braising spin. And to that end, I selected a couple of recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table cookbook. Specifically, Dorie’s Go-To Beef Daube and Go-With-Everyting Celery Root Purée.
“We all need a great beef stew in our cooking back pocket, and this one’s mine. It’s fairly classic in its preparation — the meat is browned, then piled into a sturdy pot and slow-roasted with a lot of red wine, a splash of brandy, and some onions, garlic, carrots, and a little herb bouquet to keep it company. It finishes spoon-tender, sweet and winey through and through, and burnished the color of great-grandma’s armoire.” — Dorie Greenspan
Dorie suggests buying a whole chuck roast and cut it yourself into 2-3″ pieces so they hold their shape better than the precut stew meat. The only addition I made to the daube, was add a 14.5 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, that I crushed by hand and added to the pot in Step 5. Just make sure to clear your calendar for the better part of an afternoon before serving this exquisite dinner because you’ll need at least three and half hours; but Lordy, is it worth it!
If you’ve never seen a celery root before, visually they are a bit off-putting. Roughly the size of a grapefruit, they are round with a pale-yellowish brown, dense, gnarly outer skin. Celery and celery root—also known as celeriac—are basically the same plant (Apium graveolens) with celeriac being a variety cultivated for its root rather than for its stalks. They both have the taste of celery, although many people find celeriac to be earthier and more intense. Both can be used either cooked or raw, but in either case, their texture is widely different, so they are not interchangeable in most recipes.
Here, the root veggie simmers in a milk bath with a potato and onion, then gets whirred in a food processor, resulting in a smooth ivory purée with a soft, subtle, complex, and just a little surprisingly sweet flavor. It is a great substitute for mashed potatoes with more nutrients, two-thirds less calories, lower carbs and more flavor.
For serving the meal, use wide shallow bowls or small cast-iron cocottes for this stew. Spoon the daube out into the little casseroles with a generous dollop of the purée. Like all stews, this can be kept in the refrigerator for about 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. You’ll be thrilled if there are leftovers!
Dorie's Go-To Beef Daube
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces
- 3 1/2-pound beef chuck roast, fat and any sinews removed, cut into 2- to 3-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons mild oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 yellow onions or 1 Spanish onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 6 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic head, halved horizontally, only loose papery peel removed
- 1 1/2 pounds carrots, trimmed, peeled, halved crosswise, and halved or quartered lengthwise, depending on thickness
- 1/2 pound parsnips, trimmed, peeled, halved crosswise, and quartered lengthwise (optional)
- 1/2 cup Cognac or other brandy
- 1 750-ml bottle fruity red wine
- A bouquetgarni — 2 thyme sprigs, 2 parsley sprigs, 1 rosemary sprig, and the leaves from 1 celery stalk, tied together in a dampened piece of cheesecloth
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Put a Dutch oven over medium heat and toss in the bacon. Cook, stirring, just until the bacon browns, then transfer to a bowl.
- Dry the beef between sheets of paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the bacon fat in the pot and warm it over medium-high heat, then brown the beef, in batches, on all sides. Don’t crowd the pot — if you try to cook too many pieces at once, you’ll steam the meat rather than brown it — and make sure that each piece gets good color. Transfer the browned meat to the bowl with the bacon and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Pour off the oil in the pot (don’t remove any browned bits stuck to the bottom), add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and warm it over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the onions soften, about 8 minutes.
- Toss in the garlic, carrots, and parsnips, if you’re using them, and give everything a few good turns to cover all the ingredients with a little oil. Pour in the brandy, turn up the heat, and stir well to loosen whatever may be clinging to the bottom of the pot.
- Let the brandy boil for a minute, then return the beef and bacon to the pot, pour in the wine, add the tomatoes if using, and toss in the bouquet garni. Once again, give everything a good stir.
- When the wine comes to a boil, cover the pot tightly with a piece of aluminum foil and the lid. Slide the daube into the oven and allow it to braise undisturbed for 1 hour.
- Pull the pot out of the oven, remove the lid and foil, and stir everything up once. If it looks as if the liquid is reducing by a great deal (unlikely), add just enough water to cover the ingredients. Re-cover the pot with the foil and lid, slip it back into the oven, and cook for another 1 1/2 hours (total time is 2 1/2 hours). At this point, the meat should be fork-tender — if it’s not, give it another 30 minutes or so in the oven.
- Taste the sauce. If you’d like it a little more concentrated, pour it into a saucepan, put it over high heat, and boil it down until it’s just the way you like it. When the sauce meets your approval, taste it for salt and pepper. (If you’re going to reduce the sauce, make certain not to salt it until it’s reduced.) Fish out the bouquet garni and garlic and, using a large serving spoon, skim off the surface fat.
- Serve the beef and vegetables moistened with the sauce.
Heaven in a bowl!
Go-With Everything Celery Root Purée
Simmering in milk coaxes the very best out of celery root, giving this silky purée a flavor that’s both mellow and full.
Go-With-Everything Celery Root Purée
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 large celery roots (about 2 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 medium russet potato (about 10 ounces), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 small onion, peeled, quartered
- 5 tablespoons butter, cut into 5 pieces
- Ground white pepper
- Chopped fresh chives
- Bring milk, water, and salt just to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Add celery root cubes, potato cubes, and onion quarters; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly, removing as much moisture as possible.
- Combine vegetables and butter in processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
- Transfer celery root puree to bowl. Sprinkle with chopped fresh chives and serve.
Do ahead: Celery root puree can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm in microwave before serving.