In New Orleans, there’s pot roast and then there’s Creole Daube. Creole Daube, or daube (pronounced “dohb”) for short, is what you get when you blend a French braising technique with an Italian (“red”) gravy and a roux–the typical melding of flavors, cultures and cuisines that takes place in most New Orleans family kitchens on a daily basis. Together, these three things magically transform an inexpensive cut of beef such as a rump, a shoulder or a chuck roast into deeply flavored and tender comfort food. In our family, daube was usually a Sunday supper meal served over pasta or Baked Macaroni with a green salad and lots of warm French bread. Years ago, it was also a popular neighborhood restaurant dish. Unfortunately, today very few restaurants serve it. That’s really too bad because it’s one of New Orleans most humble yet glorious dishes.
There are various ways to cook daube. Early Creole recipes suggest “larding” the beef (plugging or injecting it with pork fat) to help maintain moisture and add flavor. Others call for marinating the roast overnight in red wine. I don’t recall my family ever larding the roast or using wine. I don’t do either of those things with my daube and it always turns out moist and rich. Another variation among recipes? Too roux or not to roux. In my opinion, you’ve got to make a roux because it’s that roux-based red gravy that sets this dish apart from a typical pot roast or stew. And to be quite honest, it wouldn’t be “Creole” without it!
Daube is not complicated, but it is time-consuming. The roast needs to simmer for at least three hours after all the ingredients have been added to the pot. But all you’ll need to do during that time is give it an occasional stir. Oh, and protect the pot from your family members. You know the ones that claim to be “official tasters”? Tell them too much lid-lifting will not do a daube good!
Creole Daube Recipe
1 3 to 5 pound beef chuck, shoulder or rump roast (bone-in or boneless)
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 14-ounce can beef broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a sharp knife, make 12 small slits about 1 1/2 inches deep all over roast. Using your fingers, plug a slice of garlic into each slit. Season roast with Creole seasoning, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Once oil begins to smoke, add roast and sear on all sides until crusty brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove roast from pot; set aside. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add flour; whisk constantly until a milk chocolate roux is achieved. Add onions, bell peppers, celery and green onions; cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and tomato sauce; cook, stirring frequently, until sauce starts to turn brownish-red, about 10 more minutes. Gradually stir in beef broth. Add bay leaves, thyme, cayenne, cloves and salt and pepper to taste. Return roast to pot, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Stir in parsley. When done, remove roast from pot, slice thin (if it hasn’t already fallen apart) and serve over pasta. Serves 6-8.