Daube aux Pruneaux

I got this from a cookbook called Chateau Cuisine, by Anne Willan.  It's a stunningly beautiful volume, incorporating photographs of several chateaux located all over France, and recipes from each of them.  This particular recipe is from the Chateau du Chassan in the Auverne.  Here is a YouTube, "Bailero, from Chants d'Auverne to put you in the mood.

Daube aux Pruneaux (Stew with prunes)

4 1/2 lb stewing beef cut into 2" cubes
1 lb carrots, cut into 1- 1 1/2" pieces
2 medium onions, sliced
about 1 1/2- 2 bottles red wine (I used merlot)*
bay leaf
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 lb. pitted prunes

Combine the meat, carrots, onions and wine in a 8 qt heavy stockpot or casserole.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer over low heat for 3 hours.  

Remove the pot from the heat, and add more wine if necessary:  the wine should barely cover the meat.  Add the bay leaf and salt (use a light hand: it's easier to add more than to take it out!  I used about a teaspoon) and allow to return to room temperature. 

 Allow the daube to marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.

Add the prunes to the casserole, and return to a boil.  Simmer over low heat for one more hour.  Season with plenty of pepper, and additional salt, if you wish.  If the sauce seems thin, remove the solids and boil until it lightly coats a spoon.  Serves 10-12.

*Some people say that one should use a very good wine for cooking, as well as drinking, a dish like this.  I don't agree.  Don't use a wine you wouldn't dream of drinking yourself, and MOST CERTAINLY don't use grocery store cooking wine!  However, vin ordinaire is perfectly appropriate.  I used Charles Shaw Merlot (Two Buck Chuck) in this recipe and saved the nicer stuff for drinking.  The stew tasted wonderful, and I didn't break the bank.

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