This rich, one-pot, slow-cooked stew features fork-tender braised beef, hearty red wine and aromatic Provencal herbs.
When life gives you a tiny bit more time to think about the day ahead — on weekends, for example — nothing seems more luxurious than getting dinner underway hours in advance. For me, that means it’s time to turn the oven on and start slow-cooking. This Provencal-inspired stew features fork-tender braised beef, hearty red wine and aromatic herbs.
I know some of you are thinking – hasn’t this girl ever heard of a Crock-Pot?
Here’s the truth: I used to own a few electric slow cookers, but I gave them away a few years ago during a big move from one city to another. And you know what? I don’t miss them one bit. Maybe I never developed enough of a relationship with one to ever consider having a full-blown affair with an appliance in the first place.
I appreciate the convenience slow-cookers offer, but in my opinion dumping ingredients into a pot and pressing a button removes a vital connection from the cooking process. Instead, I reserve my affection for my heavy-duty, round Le Creuset pots (and a gorgeous Staub I was lucky to be gifted with).
Sliding a pot full of meat, vegetables and wine-rich broth into the oven for a few hours not only fills the house with amazing smells, but leaves me hands-free to do other things. I love the fact that dinner can be bubbling away in the oven, and all I’ll need to do later is slice some bread and toss mixed greens for a salad.
Why a Dutch oven is the best slow-cooker:
- A good enameled cast iron pot is an investment, but it’s beautiful and will last a long, long time.
- It’s heavy-duty and reliably retains even heat distribution over long, slow cooking times.
- For slow-cooker recipes, a Dutch oven is a true one-pot vessel — sear meats and sauté vegetables on top of the stove, and place in the oven to slow-cook.
- You can cook dinner in the oven while doing other things. And nothing is cozier than a warm kitchen in the cooler months.
This recipe is based on a French-style beef daube, which is just a fancy name for beef stew. Traditionally made in a very large earthenware dish called a daubiere, it’s slow-cooking at its best – rich with tender beef, herbs and red wine. I throw in aromatic herbs like thyme and rosemary, and use a fresh fennel bulb in place of celery for a little Provencal twist.
I also prefer to cook most of the vegetables separately from the stew — that way they retain their color, texture and flavor, rather than becoming overcooked, beige mush.
This stew is delicious served over wide pasta noodles like pappardelle or cheesy polenta. And because it tastes even better the day after (and a few after that), it’s really the perfect thing to cook on a relaxed weekend, with the reward of delicious leftovers during the week.
french slow-cooked beef stew with red wine
Yield 4 - 6 servings
Use a 4 1/2 - 6 quart capacity pot. When reheating, add a bit more stock or water to the stew as the sauce will thicken when refrigerated.
- 2 1/2 - 3 pound beef chuck roast
- Kosher salt (Diamond brand)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- Black peppercorns in a peppermill
- 1 1/2 cups hearty red wine, such as syrah, merlot or Cotes-du-Rhone
- 1 - 2 cups beef or chicken broth or water
- 2 bay leaves and 4 sprigs each thyme and rosemary, tied into a bundle with string
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup chopped leeks
- 1 fennel bulb, stems and tough outer layers trimmed, sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Grated fresh orange zest (optional)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center.
- Trim the beef of excess fat and and slice into 3-inch chunks. Season the beef evenly with 2 teaspoons salt.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Sear the beef in batches until browned. Remove to a platter.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the shallot to the pot. Cook 5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until it's softened. Return the beef to the pot and sprinkle with flour. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, wine, 1 teaspoon salt and 15 turns of the pepper mill.
- Bring to a simmer, then add enough broth to just cover the beef. Toss in the herb bundle. Cover the pot with a sheet of parchment or foil, then top with the pot lid.
- Place in the oven to braise for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. The cooking liquid will be slightly reduced and the meat should fall apart when prodded with a fork.
- Put the carrots, leeks and fennel in a large skillet with 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place over high heat until the water boils. Cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender but still colorful, about 10 minutes.
- Just before serving, stir the vegetables into the stew. Taste for seasoning Sprinkle with parsley and about a teaspoon fresh orange zest. Serve over wide egg noodles, parmesan polenta or with crusty bread alongside.
Courses main course - meat