We all know of my love for Mark Bittman, so we come to yet another post singing his praises. I think you will find yourself agreeing with me however!
In our Meat CSA we occasionally get stewing meat. Not a cut that you would expect you make much use of on weeknights–stewing meats are precisely those parts that have to be cooked long and slow to make them tender rather than chewy, full of connective tissue that melts away after a long stay over a low flame. But it turns out you can have a weeknight stew–while the recipe can take up to 24 hours prep time, only about 10 minutes of that actually requires any work on your part. I suppose the only catch is you have to think about it a day ahead of time.
You mince (or if you prefer, just chop) a bit of garlic, carrot, and onion (or in my case shallots) and add to a bowl together with your stewing meat and some nice sherry vinegar and herbs. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or up to 24 hours. I suspect (thought I don’t know enough kitchen science to definitively state), that the vinegar helps “cook” the beef to a degree while it marinates, breaking down the meat even before you put it on the stove. Then, 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you want to serve, you bring the mixture to a boil and then quickly lower to a simmer until the meat is tender. Swirl in more minced garlic and cook another 5 minutes and you are done.
I made mine late last Tuesday and came home from work Wednesday, popped it on the stove, and, dinner is done! (I should have prepared a side dish of nice veggies, but I didn’t. Can I point to the carrots and garlic in the daube as evidence of a well-rounded meal? Yeah, pretty weak there…). While this is in essence just a beef stew with a cheap cut of meat, using a nice vinegar, lots of garlic, and the magic of a long marinade, must be what makes this dish so special and elegant. I also love how effortlessly this can be incorporated into the workweek, and the satisfaction of coming home knowing all you need for a great meal is just to pull something out of the fridge and turn on your stovetop. Yet it’s a great weekend meal too–it doesn’t at all taste as easy as it is to prepare–therefore when Kathryn asked me on Thursday for some dinner ideas for the weekend, I had a ready suggestion at hand (and figured a post was in order as well).
Garlicky Beef Daube (adapted for 1-2 servings) from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
4 garlic cloves
1 pound beef chuck or round, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes
1-2 shallots, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry red wine
pinch teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 bay leaf
In a small dutch oven, combine 3 minced garlic cloves, beef, onion, carrots, vinegar, wine, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir, cover, and refrigerate for 1-24 hours (the more the better).
After marinating, put the dutch oven over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Stir in the remaining minced garlic, cook for 5 minutes more, and serve.