April 6, 2017 – A few days ago I put together the dramatically named G’s Spice Melange. I made it up to season a stuffed meat loaf. I was very pleased with it. It added a delightful depth of flavor to the dish. I was anxious to try the spice mixture on something slow-cooked to see how it would perform under a prolonged exposure to heat.
A daube, I thought. Perfect.
A daube is a traditional beef stew from the Provencal region of France. It is usually made from a cheap cut of beef, slow-cooked to tenderize it.
There’s even a special pot designed for making a daube. A daubiere. Traditionally made from clay, it looks much like a tea pot. It has a concave lid. The idea is to pour hot water into the depression in the lid. That is supposed to increase the defense against evaporation, adding to the juicy tenderness of the meat.
If you don’t have a daubiere, and few of us do these days, a heavy braising pan will work just fine. But I wouldn’t pour hot water over the top. It’s really not necessary. And the top of a braising pan isn’t concave.
What if you don’t have any beef? I didn’t.
No beef. No daubiere. Where is this going, I thought?
Aha! I did have a pork shoulder and a heavy braising pan. At the risk of being thought mendacious, my traditional daube just became a slow-cooked pork stew. A pork faux daube.
Not only did my spice mélange perform well with the faux daube, the slow-cooking style resulted in the most tender and moist pork I’ve ever eaten. Ever.
I served my faux daube over polenta. You could as easily use pasta or rice. Or just serve slow-cooked pork stew.
Pork Faux Daube with G’s Spice Melange
3 tablespoons G’s Spice Melange (recipe follows), more or less to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 potato, cut into bite size pieces
1 head fennel, cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Salt & pepper to taste, if needed
Sprinkle G’s Spice Melange and the minced garlic over the pork. Rub it well into the meat. Let it stand for about half an hour to allow the meat to absorb the spices.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy braising pan (unless you’re one of the few who actually has a daubiere) over moderate heat. Brown the pork. When the meat has developed good color, take it from the pan and set it aside.
Add the third tablespoon of olive oil along with the onion and fennel. When the vegetables are nicely browned, deglaze the plan with the vinegar.
Add the pork back to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the braising pan. Simmer the stew for about two hours.
Add the chopped potato. Bring the liquid back to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for another half an hour, until the potato is cooked through.
Remove the meat and vegetables from the pot. Combine the butter and flour well by kneading them together with your fingers. Whisk the combined butter and flour into the liquid in the pan. Bring it to a boil, whisking constantly.
When the sauce has thickened a bit, return the pork and vegetables to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
G’s Spice Melange
(all the spices are dried)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon crushed rosemary
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon sage
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne, to taste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon salt
Put all the ingredients in a container with a tight lid. Shake vigorously to mix thoroughly.