DAUBE D’AGNEAU PROVENҪALE (LAMB STEW WITH OLIVES AND TOMATO)
In Provence where this dish originated, local potteries sell pot-bellied casseroles with tiny round lids just large enough to insert your hand. Sizes vary depending to family numbers, there are ten of us when we gather in the Roussillon and the stout brown pot lives on the cupboard in Grandma’s bedroom, safe from the turmoil of the kitchen. It is lifted down once or twice a year for recipes like this one that takes almost a day to marinate and then to cook. Even for children, Grandma usually adds a whole bottle wine (the alcohol evaporates during long cooking), but veal stock or water can be used instead. (Note that an adult is needed for heavy lifting of the pot in and out of the oven.) We rarely have leftovers from a Daube, but any bits can be chopped and mixed with the gravy as a sauce for pasta.
5 lb/1.8 kg boned shoulder of lamb
½ lb/250 g green olives or mixed black and green olives, pitted
¾ lb/375 g piece of lean bacon, diced
1 lb/450 g onions, sliced in thick rounds
1 lb/450 g carrots, sliced in thick rounds
2 lb/900 g tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups/750 ml water
For the marinade
Large bouquet garni of thyme sprigs, parsley stems and 2-3 bay leaves
2 strips of orange zest
2-3 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bottle/750 ml dry red wine
A large earthenware or enamelled cast iron casserole
1. Cut the lamb into 2 in/5 cm cubes, discarding sinew and fat. Layer it in a bowl with the marinade ingredients and pour over the wine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. The next day, heat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F. Drain the meat, strain and reserve the marinade. Tie the flavorings in muslin or cheesecloth. In the casserole, layer the ingredients in the following order: lamb, bacon, olives, onions, carrots, tomatoes, garlic and ground pepper. Pour over the reserved marinade and water and add the bag of flavorings, pushing it down among the other ingredients. Cover and bring the daube to a boil in the oven – this will take half an hour or more.
3. When the daube starts to simmer, turn the oven to 150˚C/300˚F and continue cooking until the lamb is so tender it can be cut with a spoon, 2-2 ½ hours. Transfer the meat and vegetables to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set them aside, discarding the bag of flavorings. Boil the sauce to reduce it by about a third, 20-30 minutes When the sauce is well reduced, replace the meats and vegetables, reheat the casserole and season the daube to taste. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen.