Beef Daube / Beef Bourguignon / Fancy Schmancy Stew

So what is Daube? and is Beef Bourguignon a Daube or are they both just stews with a fancy name?

My mum never cooked Bourguignon didn’t know what Daube was but she cooked many a stew. A stew you see is a simple combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy, it can be meat or vegetables or a combination of both.

Now, to me stew is not a nice name, it conjures up images in my head of a combination of cheap fatty meat and vegetables that have been cooked in liquid a sort of thickened soup. My mum cooked it and we ate it because it was low-cost cooking and fed us hungry kids well. The trouble is good stews require long gentle cooking process to allow the gelatinous connective tissue in the meat to break down and become tender. This long process was fine in the days of a wood stove that burnt all day long but modern kitchens lack these. Using a pressure cooker was my mum’s answer to the problem the pressure cooker reduced cooking times typically by about 70 percent and simulated the effects of long braising. My trick is to cook the stew in a big Chasseur Enameled Cast-Iron pot in the oven and leave it in overnight; the warmth of the oven keeps it cooking gently for a long time after the stove has been turned off.

So back to the question what is a Daube? A Daube is a classic French dish made with cubed Beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and ‘herbes de Provence’, so a Daube is a stew then, just like we had as kids right?… well no… as kids there was no, wine, garlic, or herbes de Provence, but yes a Daube is a stew… look back at the definition…but hang on you say, what about this Beef Bourguignon that he keeps rabbiting on about? Surely that is not a stew too? Sorry but,… yep it is! It is a stew prepared with Beef braised in red wine, traditionally pinot noir and Beef broth, generally flavoured with garlic, onions and a bouquet garni, with pearl onions and mushrooms.

The term stew really describes how the dish is cooked, it is described as wet cooking (as against roasting which is dry) so now you know!

Today’s version is not a classic Julie Child Beef Bourguignon from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I but certainly could be described as a Daube the added twist is a ‘crust’ of crunchy stars made from stale buttered bread ( it could also be done with pastry ).


  • 2 rashes of bacon
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 kg lean stewing Beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine,
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown Beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 500gms mushrooms, fresh and quartered
  • 100 gms button mushrooms.
  • 8 slices of day old bread


Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Heat fat or oil in casserole until it is almost smoking. Add Beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides.

Brown the sliced vegetables.

Sweat the mushrooms

Return the Beef and vegetables to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the Beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.

Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

Remove casserole and turn oven down to 160 degrees.

Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for several hours (turn oven off and go to bed.)

Before reheating, prepare button mushrooms.

Remove bacon rind (don’t discard yet) in a fry pan, fry rind and bacon for a few minutes add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling

Add button mushrooms and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Remove from heat take out the rind and discard.

Add the mushrooms to the Daube.

Crunchy topping

Butter 8 slices of day old bread liberally.

Using a cookie cutter cut out shapes from each slice of bread.

Arrange the cut out portions over the top of the Daube

Heat in the oven until the Daube is bubbling and hot right through and the topping has browned nicely.

Serve with mash and greens.

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