I actually found some time last Sunday to make something other than grilled cheese. Around our house lately, that is nothing short of a miracle! I planned ahead. I shopped. I prepped. I cooked. It was awesome.
As much as I loved eating this recipe for Dorie’s ‘Go-To Beef Daube,’ I think I may have enjoyed getting back to cooking the way I love even more. I really don’t get to do it very often any more. While this recipe – which is basically like a really good, thoughtful, beef stew, isn’t really anything fancy, it is just the kind of dinner I like to make. Especially in the cold months.
I bought a nice sized (just over 3lb) beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut it into large chunks, just like Dorie suggests, then browned those in my Dutch oven. I followed all the directions, adding the shallots, onion, carrots, etc. The only change I made to the recipe was to just substitute good beef broth in place of the wine. The recipe was definitely more time consuming than when I usually throw a roast into the slow cooker and walk away, but I tend to think that is partly the point of a book like this. It is thoughtful food – not just food for the sake of eating. I guess that is when something actually becomes nourishment.
Here’s the thing though. Remember above when I said that the recipe was thoughtful? I felt like I took the time to slow down, enjoy what I was doing and get in touch with the process. Choosing the ingredients, prepping them and taking the time to get them ready with some actual thought and care – not just hurry, hurry, hurry. Now, the fact was that often the hurry, hurry, hurry happens when the hubs isn’t here and I feel like I have to run in a million different directions all at once. Last Sunday, he was home. He helped with the kids while I made dinner.
I even made some crusty French rolls (recipe at the bottom) to go with the beef daube, as well as some really good mashed potatoes. I started the roll dough right after I slid the daube into the oven and they all ended up being done around the same time. I just let the daube rest in the covered Dutch oven on the stove top while the rolls baked. The rolls were also great for making little sandwiches with leftover beef the next day.
When we finally sat down to eat dinner it was more relaxed and I felt more in touch with what I was eating than I have in a while.
The point of the story. I need to find a way to slow things down again more often. I seem to have forgotten that this is my therapy. Taking time to take a deep breath is good for you. Turns out breathing onion fumes can be good for you too. Who knew?
For more reviews of this month’s recipes from my fellow French Fridays with Dorie participants, head on over to the site and click on the LYL post for today (or any Friday). As always, this recipe can be found in Around My French Table (which incidentally would be the perfect gift for any food / cooking lover you know – or anyone who wants to learn for that matter).
Crusty French Rolls (aka Pistolets or Split Rolls)
Makes 8 large rolls
2 1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
1 1/4 cups water + up to 1/3 cup more, as needed
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Put the 1 1/4 cup water into a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Set aside and let dissolve for 5 minutes, then stir. Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, make a well in the center. Pour in the dissolved yeast, then stir enough of the flour in from the sides to make a thick paste. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 20 minutes.
Mix the remaining flour into the wet mixture and add a little of the extra water at a time to make a soft, sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough until it is soft, smooth and slightly elastic. Try not to add too much extra flour to the dough while kneading. This process will take about 10 minutes of kneading. You can do all this part with a kneading attachment on a mixer, and it will only take about 6 minutes.
Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover it again. Let the dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled, then deflate the dough (punch down), cover it again and rise for 45 minutes more, then punch the dough down again, cover and rise 45 minutes again. This process seems drawn out, but it lets the dough develop a really nice flavor and helps get that crust.
Deflate the dough gently one last time and divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (you could do smaller rolls if you want and easily get 12 – these rolls were fairly large, about 1 per person). Roll the dough pieces into a tight ball and place them on a lined baking sheet, or sprinkle a little cornmeal onto the baking sheet. The rolls shouldn’t be touching, so leave a couple of inches between the dough.
Use the handle of a clean wooden spoon to push a ‘split’ down the middle of each dough ball, going all the way to the bottom, but not hard enough to cut the dough in half, just to leave a huge indentation – it will spring up some anyway on this last rise. Sprinkle a little flour over the indented rolls then cover them and let them rise 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F and bake the rolls 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.