This is the most traditional of the inland Provencal dishes. According to the old story, it was invented by a farmer's wife, who, having put a piece of beef in the oven to cook, began gossiping with a friend, lost track of time, and found the pot dry and the meat burnt. In an attempt to save dinner, she added more water into the pot, but forgot it again and it burnt a second time. Desperate to hide her mistake, the farmer's wife added herbs, wine and vegetables to the pot, so that by the end of the day the resulting dish was so sweet and tender that all her neighbours wanted the recipe. The secret is in the cooking time. Serve with new season boiled potatoes or noodles tossed in a little butter.
1.75kg piece of rump steak
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp flour, plus more for dusting
1 tbsp drained capers
100 g black olives
1 x 410 g tin chopped tomatoes
zest of 1 orange
200 g carrots, chopped into 5 cm pieces
125 g small brown mushrooms
a bunch of flat-leaf parsley
for the marinade:
1 bottle white wine
2 bay leaves sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, add the rump steak and cover. Leave to marinate overnight, turning from time to time in the evening and during the following day.
2. Remove the beef from the marinade and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Retain the marinade.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a casserole pan over a low-medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute gently for 8 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and mix well, then pour in the marinade a little at a time, stirring constantly. When all the liquid has been stirred in, add the capers, olives, tomatoes and orange zest, and allow to simmer.
3. Heat the oven to 140°C/gas 1.
4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Dust the rump of beef in flour and add it to the hot oil. Brown all over to seal.
5. Transfer the beef to the casserole and ladle some of the juice back to the frying pan to lift off the delicious meaty bits from the side of the pan. Return the juice to the casserole. Bring the casserole to a simmer, cover with a lid, place in the oven and cook for 2 hours.
6. When the 2 hours are up, add the carrots and mushrooms and then cook for a further hour.
To serve, lift the beef out on to a carving plate and carve it into thickish slices. Stir the parsley into the vegetables and juices, check the seasoning and spoon it over the slices of beef.
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