Fall had started in earnest; a cool, light mist was falling. My wife Lisa and I decided to take our dog for a long walk foraging wild cèpes (porcini). I built a roaring fire in our small wood stove, placed a daube of beef on top to braise slowly, then walked out into the dank Mendocino woods….
‘Plus elle est demeuree sur le feu, meilleure elle est!
(The longer it stays on the fire, the better the daube is)
Daubes are very slow-cooked stews that are found all over rural France, though the best known are from southern France. Traditionally daubes are made with lamb or beef, though one does not need to travel too far to find pork daubes, bull daubes, rabbit daubes, and even octopus daubes. Classically they are cooked in the lingering embers of a wood fire in special potbellied pots called ‘daubieres’ which are mostly made from copper or clay.
The lengthy cooking time combined with the bulbous shape of the cooking vessel creates a convection action where heat from the bottom rises to the top in the form of steam, hits the cooler top, then rains back down over the simmering meat. This action allows the collagen found in braising meats to turn into gelatin and provide a silky mouthfeel to the finished dish.
Many cooks claim it is damn near impossible to make a proper daube without a daubiere, though begrudgingly some will admit it is possible. I was one of those cooks.…
Lately, I have become fascinated with the different Fall squashes that have started appearing at the farmers market. I grabbed seven or eight without thinking about what I would make with them, I just knew I needed them in my life. The forecast for the weekend called for cool, rainy Pacific Northwest weather. So I decided to make a comforting Southern French beef short rib stew known as daube. Daube is one of those harbinger dishes that signals the changing of summer to fall. I couldn’t think of anything better than a bowl of Fall squash gnocchi and a rustic bottle of Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol rouge to accompany our lunch. …
Ramp Pasta made like Pate Nicoise
One of my favorite springtime dishes is a classic daube of lamb, a Provencal lamb stew made from onctuous lamb cheeks slowly simmered in rose with lavender honey till impossibly tender. Traditionally daubes are served with something starchy, like pasta or gnocchi, to help stretch the meat out and serve as a vehicle to soak up the wonderful juices.
In Nice, they often make a green gnocchi (Pate Nicoise) that simmers in the broth for the last 30 minutes. This year I tried something new, I made a classic Pate Nicoise, using wild ramps in place of the more traditional Swiss chard, and the results were stunning.
It is absolutely no secret to anyone that knows me well that I am in head over heels in love with Provence, land of my predecessors. It’s heaven on earth; land of the golden sunshine, peopled by a population that are joyous, defiant, independent with a playful spirit, and best of all, they really love to eat. The cuisine is simple and rustic, yet diversely reflects the seasons on every plate. Limiting my favorites to a select, top 10 list was hard, but this is what I came up with.
Fall had started in earnest; a cool, light mist was falling and we decided to take our dog Lucy for a long walk foraging wild cèpes. I built a roaring fire in our wood stove, placed a daube of beef on top to slowly braise, and decanted a heady bottle of red wine, then walked out into the dank Mendocino forest.
Maybe I am like one of Pavlov’s dogs, but I start to crave beef daube (Provencal beef stew) as soon as the first cool Fall weather begins. Long ago Lisa and I lived in a small, off the grid hippie cabin deep within the woods, on the edge of Van Damme State Park in Mendocino, California. Our cabin often reminded me of Daudet’s windmill in Provence, though beaten and forlorn, it provided a quiet refuge from the bustle of modern life.
Fall had started in earnest; a cool, light mist was falling on an otherwise drab day when we decided to take our dog Lucy for a long walk foraging wild cèpes. I built a roaring fire in our wood stove and placed a daube of beef perfumed with cinnamon stick and dried orange peel on top to slowly braise. We decanted a heady bottle of red wine and walked out into the dank Mendocino forest. …
French Soul Food?
I pondered what soul food meant to me. My initial thoughts conjured savory images of collard green and cornbread filled adventures at Chicago soul food stalwarts like Gladys Luncheonette, Army & Lou’s and Soul Queen eaten to a soundtrack of Don Cornelius’s Soul Train. Even now, decades later, as I sit typing behind my computer keyboard I still can’t just casually say Soul Train (the hippest trip in America) without mimicking the high pitched intro of the program and licking my lips….