Beef cubes, marinated and slowly-braised in robust red wine with orange zest and Niçoise olives, make Provencal Beef Stew a perfect winter weekend treat.Since the wine is prominent in this dish, use a bottle that you would enjoy drinking. When serving, a glass of juicy Châteauneuf-du-Pape complements the rich stew well. Inspired by many sources, including Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Cooking
In a large bowl, combine onion, carrots, chopped herbs, bay leaves, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, ground cloves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, red wine, and red wine vinegar. Add beef cubes and toss to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drain and dry beef cubes, reserving the marinade. Season with kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over moderate heat in a 6-1/2 quart Dutch oven. Cook the bacon lardons until fat is rendered, but not crisp. Remove from pan and set aside.
Working in batches, add beef cubes to the pan and brown on all sides (about 3 minutes per side), adding additional olive oil as needed. Transfer browned beef cubes to a bowl.
Add reserved marinade and vegetables to the Dutch oven, scraping the browned beef and bacon bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add beef cubes and bacon back to the pot with the chopped tomatoes, orange zest, and bouquet garni, stirring to combine.
Bring to a boil, cover Dutch oven and braise in preheated oven for one hour. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Continue braising for an additional 3 to 4 hours until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally.
While the stew is braising, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet until bubbling. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring to coat, until juices are released and mushrooms are lightly browned. Set aside.
Remove stew from oven and discard the bouquet garni and bay leaves. Skim the fat from the top of the braising liquid.** Add the mushrooms and olives, gently stirring to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle stew into warmed bowls with buttered egg noodles or potatoes, if desired, and garnish with chopped parsley.
*To cut bacon into lardons, stack slices and cut straight down into 1/4-inch wide pieces with a sharp knife.**If you prefer a thicker "gravy," transfer meat and vegetables to a bowl and stir 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cool water into the braising liquid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until thickened. Return meat and vegetables to the Dutch oven and proceed.