The very mention of the ‘Last Chance Saloon’ brings up imagery of gnarled and grizzled old men leaning their heavy elbows on the greasy bar of despair as they reflect on wasted lives and opportunity forgone. Thankfully, I’m not one of those, at least not yet. There is a double whammy of last chance about this recipe all the same. But, that’s no reason to not cook it. (That was a double negative about a double whammy BTW.)
Whammy number one. That bottle of Chateau Petit Gravet, 2011, St. Emilion is my last bottle of the stuff. By the time you read this, it was my last bottle. I started buying it on trips to France over a decade ago and I enjoy the annual tasting ceremony when we arrive as much as I enjoy the wine.
Whammy number two. At this time of year, the garlic I bought in France last year starts to go off and sprout. I am reminded that I promised myself that I would plant some of it and reap the rewards. Just like every other year, I failed to do so.
There is an upside to these bodyblows. Rather than taking myself off to the long room for a few chasers, we plan to return to France later in the year to stock up on both garlic and wine, as you do. But, I digress. You want a recipe for a Daub of Beef. So, here you go…
- 3 large beef shin cuts, bone in.
- 4 large onions
- 100 grammes of chestnut mushrooms
- 100 grammes of closed cap mushrooms
- 500 ml of high quality beef stock
- A tablespoon of tomato purée
- Half a bottle of good Bordeaux or St. Emilion wine (or something punchy and decent from somewhere else)
- 1 bulb of good quality garlic
- A generous amount of fresh thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to season
Cut a few slices through the tough outer membrane on the beef. This will stop the beef contracting and getting out of shape while it cooks. Heat a casserole dish (dutch oven) to medium hot. Brown the beef on both sides. Remove the beef and reserve.
Cut the onions into eights. Turn the heat down to medium/low. Sweat the onions down until they become translucent and have reduced in volume by about two thirds. While this is looking after itself (as it will), prepare the mushrooms and slice into quarters.
Prepare the garlic. It will only need to be peeled and cut in half to facilitate removing the green shoots. For the record, they add a bitter flavour. It will cook for a long time so don’t worry about them being too big.
Fry the mushrooms in a little butter. They will rapidly absorb the butter. They will reduce in volume by about three quarters and get nice and brown. They are cooked when they start to release the butter.
Add the mushrooms to the onions. Add the beef stock and the wine.
Add the thyme and bay leaves. Add the garlic. Then layer in the beef, being sure to get each piece well covered in the delicious mixture.
Bring the dish to a rolling boil and season with salt and pepper. It needs to boil to get the alcohol out of the wine. As this was my last bottle of Petit Gravet 2011, I didn’t console myself by drinking the other half of the bottle. That is oxymoronic in a way. I enjoyed the wine with the meal. Given that the dish has to go into a 160ºC oven for 5 hours, I enjoyed the wait too.
After about four hours, remove the lid from the casserole and let the sauce thicken. We want it really very thick, that makes for a daub rather than a stew. You may want to thicken it with a roux of butter and flour. Don’t let it be thin. This is your last chance.
This is the best possible way to use up the last of the wine and some of the last of the garlic. I served it with floury potatoes. It was delicious. If you have any wine left and don’t mind mind preparing the garlic, give it a go.
Side note on the ‘last of the 2011 Petit Gravet’: The excellent news is that the last time we were in France I splurged on a few bottles of the Petit Gravet ‘Marie Louise’ 2011. They haven’t featured here yet. That is a treat for later. That will keep me out of the last chance saloon for now….