Monday, December 13, 2010

A Little Daube’ll Do Ya

For us, wintertime means more full-bodied food, full-bodied wines.

When I was growing up, my mother made a mean beef stew. It was one of my favourite meals and my fondness for hearty dishes with braised meats hasn’t diminished. It defines comfort food.

I recently came across a recipe from Wine Spectator for “La Daube de Boeuf” that fits my definition of comfort food. This particular recipe is from the Bordeaux region but you can find “daube” recipes throughout the regions of France. It’s simple to make (hey, I did it!), fast, and delicious.

I made a couple of changes from the recipe. First, the recipe calls for “press wine”, a wine made from squeezing the pomace (skins, stems, seeds, pulp, spent yeast) in a press. Its tannins, even astringency, make it a wine perhaps better suited for cooking than quaffing. As far as I know, press wine is impossible to find here but, as the recipe mentions, any full-bodied wine will do. However, the key characteristic of press wine is tannins, so I’d recommend going to Vintages and picking up a Madiran, Mourvèdre, or Pinotage. I didn’t have time to head to Vintages, so I picked up an inexpensive Minervois from my local LCBO outlet.

Second, I added some “herbes de Provence”, which adds a bit more oomph to a recipe that seemed bland to me.

The recipe suggested that this dish is better as a leftover, so I made it a day ahead of time, stored half in the fridge and froze the other half. With two servings, we matched two different wines: once staying true to the recipe's origin with a Left-Bank Bordeaux (so Cabernet Sauvignon was the dominant Varietal) and once with a Syrah-Grenache-Mourvèdre blend from Languedoc. The flavours of the dish are so integrated and mellowed out that both wines really shone.  But I give the edge to the Languedocien.

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