With the Cité de Carcassonne, that restored medieval fortress in the Languedoc region in mind, one should serve a formidable:
2 ¼ kilogram boneless beef chuck, excess fat trimmed, and cut into 2-cm cubes
1 bottle of dry red wine (750 ml)
3 medium carrots, scraped, and cut in half
1 large onion, quartered
8 fresh thyme sprigs
1 long, fresh rosemary sprig, cut in 4 pieces
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 bay leaves
1 (one) 15x2-cm strip orange peel (orange part only)
5 strips smoked, streaky bacon, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Chopped, fresh parsley
Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Remove the beef cubes from the marinade, pat dry, and put aside. Reserve the marinade.
Cook the bacon in a large, heavy-based pot over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped onion and chopped garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl.
Heat the oil in the same pot over high heat. Sprinkle the beef cubes with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add the beef cubes to the pot until they start to brown, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon and onion mixture.
Reduce heat to medium high. Add the flour to the pot. Whisk until the flour browns, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in the reserved marinade. Bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Add the beef and onion mixture and any accumulated juices to the pot. Cover tightly and simmer until the meat is just tender, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Uncover. Simmer until meat is very tender and the liquid is reduced to sauce consistency, about 45 minutes longer. (The daube can be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead. Let it cool to room temperature, refrigerate, and reheat, stirring frequently, when ready to serve.)
Remove from the heat. Remove the carrots, quartered onion, herb sprigs, bay leaves, and orange peel, and discard. Spoon the fat off the top of the daube. Taste to see if it needs any salt and pepper. Reheat gently before transferring to a warmed serving dish. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve with cooked noodles of your choice.
The word daube comes from daubière, a covered casserole. Almost every region of France has its own daube. This one from the Languedoc-Roussillon region is a savoury, country-style daube, an informal main course that would be brilliantly paired with the Shiraz from the Nederburg Winemasters range.