Spotted outside a shop in Pézenas today: a traditional Provençal daubière and some Moroccan-inspired tagines, a couple of bowls and some jam funnels. The daubière is used for making the slow-cooked dish of beef, vegetables, red wine, garlic and herbs known as la daube.
In literature, this dish is associated for me with Mrs Ramsay and her dinner party in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, although of course Mrs Ramsay didn’t prepare it herself. “The cook had spent three days over that dish”, we’re told, while Mrs Ramsay takes the credit for the fact that it is “a triumph”. “It is a French recipe of my grandmother’s”, she says. And sure enough, when I googled boeuf en daube others too had published la recette de ma grandmère.
Elizabeth David gives a good, if rather complicated recipe in Mediterranean Food for those of us whose grandmothers didn’t make it (my maternal grandmother was a vegetarian so she certainly didn’t). She cooks the marinade first before adding it to the meat the day before cooking. I would just add red wine, bay leaves, sprigs of thyme, peppercorns and garlic to the meat and leave it overnight. Next day add sliced carrots and onions and some more wine and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. As Elizabeth David says, “This dish has a really beautiful southern smell and appearance.”
There are as many recipes for tagine as there are pots to cook them in, but my version of lamb and olive tagine is on the Food from the Mediterranean blog – here.