Oranges are the Only Fruit
The problem with writing a seasonal monthly food and wine article is that it can get repetitive - so if you want to know how to 'devil and pull' a turkey you'll have to look back through our archive or invest in a copy of Jane Grigson's wonderful 'English Food'.
In the teeth of a British winter when the days are short and the nights are cold, warming comfort food is the order of the day, which is why my thoughts turned towards a Provençal beef daube with olives and orange zest.
Provençal Beef Daube with Olives and Orange Zest
[Serves 6 adults]
1 kilo of roughly diced braising steak
200g of unsmoked diced pancetta
A bouquet garni of thyme, bay leaves and parsley
3 medium sized Spanish onions
300g of carrots chopped in 2cm rounds
4 anchovy fillets - chopped
1 head of garlic – peeled and sliced
400g of chopped tomatoes
2 large oranges or blood oranges
100g bunch of watercress
100g of pitted black olives
1 bunch of flat leaf parsely
1 x 75 cl bottle of red wine – Côtes-du-Rhône would be ideal.
Salt & pepper
Coat the diced steak with plain flour and seasoning and batch fry in olive oil in a non-stick wok until well coloured and then set aside in a large bowl.
Cook the pancetta in the same pan until browned and add that to the steak.
Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed casserole dish and slice the onions and add them too. Cook on a medium heat stirring periodically until translucent then add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Now add the carrots, tomatoes, anchovies, bouquet garni, steak, lardons and wine to the casserole along with 5 x 5cm strips of orange zest.
Season with salt and pepper and cover with foil and a close-fitting lid and cook in a pre-heated oven at 140° for 3 hours. It is worth checking the casserole dish after 90 minutes and adding more liquid (water, stock or wine) if required. I add the olives at this stage.
Whilst the daube is cooking prepare a shallow bowl of watercress covered with round slices of orange dressed with the juice of half a lemon, half an orange, a good splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Serve the daube with creamy mashed potatoes and cover both with chopped parsley. The watercress salad can be served as side dish or as a palate-cleansing follow-up.
These portions are generous so we serve any left-over daube as a pasta sauce the following day which gives two meals from one batch of cooking.
As a purist, I'd probably serve that with a red Bellet or Bandol but for the purposes of research I went with this month's new 'La Brande' Castillon de Bordeaux 2015 which certainly has enough weight and briary, peppery fruit to accompany the dish.