Is that you, Homer?
After tasting my last pot roast, my Main Squeeze said, with a faraway look in his enormous brown eyes, "You know, you could learn daube...the flavor is different, but the consistency is the same." Such an insight couldn't go unheeded, and my in-laws were coming for the holidays, so I had my mission. But first I had to learn how to spell it. This recipe is Iraqi, and as Mama pointed out..."nobody makes this but Iraqis!" but the spelling of the word is French. I investigated to make sure I didn't call a pie a cake, and since a "daube" by definition is a stew made of red meat, I'm pretty sure I got it right. However, unlike this recipe, the French ones added veggies and the like to the pot.
A few tactical notes before beginning: One of my favorite places to get fresh, good quality leg of lamb is at a small local meat market, often located inside Middle Eastern grocery stores. The butcher will reserve a leg of lamb for me if I call ahead, and will trim much of the excess fat (a time consuming process) while I wait. The bummer is that you have to pay for the pre-trimmed weight, so shop around to get a good value. Beef is much more economical, but I'm still searching for a good way to get a lean piece of beef that will hold up to the long cooking time and that includes bone and marrow. Suggestions?
Add salt after the daube has boiled for an hour, which will enable it to tenderize properly. Add the tomato paste when there is about an hour before serving. I think adding the tomato paste towards the end helps keep the tomato flavor intact.
4-5 lbs. leg of lamb with bone, cut by the butcher into 2-pound hunks, or 4-5 lbs. beef pot roast
2 bay leaves
1 tsp whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp cardamon seeds
1/4 tsp whole pepper corns
1 whole head of garlic, peeled
1 4 oz. can tomato paste
salt to taste
Roll call: Lamb, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamon, black peppercorns, whole allspice, cloves, a head of garlic, salt, and tomato paste (Tomato Paste was absent on picture day)
Wash and trim excess fat and silver membrane from the leg of lamb.
With a long, thin, sharp knife, gouge a deep hole into the meat for each garlic clove you'll later insert. Arrange pieces of lamb in dutch oven. Shown here is a pressure cooker, but we didn't pressurize this recipe. I suspect this would be a great crock pot recipe, and will post and update after trying.
Fill the pot with water to within 1 1/2 inches of the top of the meat. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove pot from heat, discard water, set the lamb aside, and scrub the scum out of the pot. Mama chooses to do this, despite some people's assertions that it weakens the flavor of the lamb. I initially was on the side of NOT throwing out the first boil, but after tasting the final product, decided the flavor was plenty fantastic, and there indeed was less meat scum to deal with.
Meanwhile, peel 9-10 garlic cloves.
After discarding the water, return the meat to the pot and push the garlic down into the knife holes made previously. Widen the holes if necessary.
Put the spices and the rest of the garlic into the pot, cover, boil hard for about 1 hour, then add salt.
Simmer for another hour.
Add tomato paste and simmer 1-2 more hours until you're ready to eat.
Serve hot over basmati rice with salad. Note: when eating Iraqi daube, there's nothing wrong with partaking of the delicate juiciness of marrow and cartilage, that is, if you're lucky enough to get your hands on a piece of the bone!
True confession: when it came time to eat the daube, we dove in like little piggies before taking any photos. So the photo you see at the top is from my second try.