Éstouffade de Boeuf Provençale

Provençal Braised Beef Casserole

Source: 1991 Le Cordon Blue

DESCRIPTION: This is a wonderful Sunday-family-supper sort of dish. The meat is larded with strips of back fat to keep it from becoming dry and stringy when stewed, then marinated overnight in red wine before cooking. Serve the beef as it comes bubbling from the oven (the leftover meat is also delicious served cold the next day with a simple green salad).

NOTE: If back fat is not available, substitute 150 g (5 oz) streaky bacon rashers, cut 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick, cut into strips and marinated in pepper, brandy and nutmeg.

150 g (5 oz) pork, back fat, sliced 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick (see Note above)
1.25 kg (2.5 lb) braising beef such as topside
45 ml (3 tbsp) vegetable oil
150 g (5 oz) bacon eashers, diced
20 g (0.75 oz) flour
450 g (1 lb) tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
175 g (6 oz) black olives, preferably Niçoise or Kalamata, stoned

2 medium onions, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 tomato, quartered
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Bouquet Garni
20 peppercovns, crushed
1 litre (1.75 pints) dry red wine
45 ml (3 tbsp) cognac
45 ml (3 tbsp) olive oil

The chef has information about braising and stewing.

Cut the back fat into small strips 3 mm (1/8 inch) wide and 2.5 cm (1 inch) long. Make deep incisions all over the surface of the beef and insert the back fat.

Prepare the marinade: combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a non-aluminium container. Immerse the beef in the liquid and drizzle the olive oil over the surface. Leave to marinate for at least 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 230 C (375 F) mark 5.

Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade reserving the vegetables and bouquet garni; drain well.

Reserve the marinade. Heat the vegetable oil in a flameproof casserole over high heat. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan; set aside. Add the diced bacon to the pan and brown it. Then add the reserved vegetables and cook until golden. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the marinade and stir to blend. Return the meat to the pan, along wich the tomatoes, the bouquet garni and a pinch of salt. Add a little water if necessary to cover the meat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer very gently for at least 3 hours, turning the meat every hout, until it is very tender when pierced with the point of a knife. Do not allow the liquid to boil. If the olives are salty, simmer in water for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water.

When the meat is tender, remove it from the pan and cover with a warm damp tea towel, to prevent it from drying out. Discard the bouquet garni. Skim the fat from the cooking liquid. Add the olives to the pan and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Adjust the seasoning. To serve, carve the beef into thin slices. Arrange overlapping slices on a deep serving platter. Spoon the vegetables and sauce over the beef.