With stew, learn the flavors of time

The etymology of the word stew mentions the term dobba which means “marinade” in Italian. In Lyon slang, a daube is a worthless thing or person (often a kitchen “slut” according to some old dictionary editions), a daubé product is a damaged, spoiled product. Nothing to do with a nice stew, made with quality ingredients and simmered over low heat to turn out to be melting, soft, tasty.

To each region its stew

For inspiration, regional stews represent a wealth of variations. The “Provençale” combines lamb and orange zest, the Marseillaise is concocted with beef marinated in red wine, olives and anchovies. In Camargue stew called “gardiane”, the beef is replaced by bull. Wild boar stew is a tradition in the Var countryside at Christmas. In the Béarnais, the stew incorporates raw ham and in the Agenais prunes. As for the Alsatian stew, it includes potatoes that cook over low heat in the sauce.

Let’s also mention Givordine, an old Lyonnais dish, that of the sailors of the Rhône who let it simmer for a long time during their travels in the South and bound this beef chuck stew with anchovies and butter when they arrived at their destination. (read below).

Dishes suitable for even cooking

In the past, these stews were cooked in a daubière, an earthen or copper dish with a rim to deposit ashes and thus cook the recipe with embers below and above the pot. Modern daubières are cast iron casserole dishes with this famous rim for pouring boiling water and thus obtaining very even cooking.

But it’s time to get into the kitchen. For my stews, I have adopted cooking – almost – without supervision: after having marinated the meat overnight, I drain it and I sear it lightly with the other ingredients in a casserole dish, I incorporate the marinade, I cover and bake for three to four hours at 180°C. Throughout the year, seasonal variations are on the menu to enrich the sauce of the stews: pumpkin in the fall; broad beans or asparagus in the spring; diced aubergines and cherry tomatoes in summer; chestnuts, celeriac cubes and parsnips in winter.

In my library

Some works not necessarily specialized in stews but perfect for relaxing for a few hours, while the dish is cooking: Cooking method for intelligent peoplea book written by Marie Delcourt after the Second World War to cook with curiosity and earthiness (Les Belles Lettres, 336 p., €23); Le Veuf en daube, Potential cuisine therapy toolkit (Riveneuve, 176 p., €12), a cooking and resilience manual imagined by a former surgery boss who is a fan of Pierre Desproges, or even the work of the latter, More noodles the humorist’s hilarious culinary chronicles written for Food and wines of France (Les Echappées, 128 p., €14).


The recipes

► Lamb stew with spring vegetables

For 4 people

1.2 kg lamb shoulder
4 peppered artichokes
200g fresh peas
12 green carrots
8 green asparagus
20 cl of white wine
30g flour
40 g semi-salted butter
3 cloves of garlic
2 pinches of fennel seeds
1 bouquet garni
20g butter
1 drizzle of peanut oil
Fine salt and ground pepper

Cut the shoulder of lamb into cubes, marinate the meat in a salad bowl with minced garlic and fennel seeds, pour in the white wine then set aside in the fridge.

The next day, in a casserole dish, with the peanut oil and the butter, sear the pieces of drained meat without coloring too much, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with flour, stir for a long time before pouring in the white wine for the marinade. With a wooden spoon, take off the cooking juices in the bottom of the pan then wet with water 3 cm above the level of the meat. Season, add the bouquet garni as well as the brushed carrots and the halved artichokes. Let simmer for 45 minutes.

Stir in the shelled fresh peas and green asparagus. Leave to cook for another 20 minutes over low heat before serving this spring stew.

► La Givordine, the stew of the sailors of the Rhône

For 6 persons

1.5 kg chuck of beef
3 onions
125g anchovies in oil
75g butter
1 C. capers
2 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
3 carrots
40g flour
75 cl of white wine
1 drizzle of peanut oil
Fine salt and ground pepper

Cut the chuck into large cubes, the carrots into small dice. Chop the onions. Marinate everything in white wine overnight in a cool place.

The next day, in a casserole, heat the peanut oil, add the drained chuck and brown it slightly. Add the carrots and onions, then sprinkle with flour, mix well and moisten with the marinade. Cover with water to height. Season especially with pepper, cook for at least two and a half hours over very low heat or in the oven at 180°C.

Chop the anchovies, capers, parsley, add these ingredients to the softened butter. Mix for a long time then reserve in the fridge. Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Add the anchovy-caper butter to bind this stew, let it melt, mix and serve the Givordine with steamed potatoes or fresh pasta.

► PODCAST – Thierry Marx: “Cooking can be watched, thought about and eaten”


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