Easy slow-cooking at its best: Tender red wine beef stew in a rich sauce with aromatic herbs and vegetables.
This Provencal-inspired stew is full of fork-tender braised beef, hearty red wine and aromatic 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.
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 you hands-free to do other things.
While dinner is bubbling away in the oven, all you’ll need to do later is slice some bread and toss mixed greens for a salad. Win!
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? So far I haven’t missed 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.
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. 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.
What’s the best red wine to use for beef stew:
Why add red wine to beef stew?
Because when you slow-cook tough cuts of meat like beef chuck, the acid present in the wine eventually helps to break the meat down, making it more tender.
Red wine in beef stew also adds depth of flavor — some of the liquid evaporates in the oven, which concentrates the flavors going on in the pot.
So, which red wine should you use?
If you’re a regular red wine drinker, a good rule of thumb is to cook with wine that you already love to drink.
But you don’t need to spend big bucks on a bottle of red wine for beef stew.
There are lots of affordable, tasty dry red wines that are both delicious to drink and cook with.
Here’s some good value (usually under $10 for a 750 ml bottle) red wines to pour into your beef stew pot:
- California Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, “Bordeaux-style” blends
- French Cotes du Rhone, Bourgogne (pinot noir), Syrah
- Italian Chianti, Barbera D’Asti, Montepulciano
- South American/Australian Malbec, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon
The best beef to use for red wine beef stew:
Beef chuck – The chuck comes from the shoulder portion of the cow between the ribs and the brisket.
This heavily exercised muscle contains a lot of connective tissue and fat marbling, which makes for a tastier piece of meat. Boneless chuck is my first pick for beef stew.
Look for chuck roasts labeled blade roast, chuck shoulder, top chuck or shoulder clod roast.
Next to using a piece of beef that becomes tasty and fork tender after slow-cooking, I like to 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 for days afterward, it’s really the perfect thing to cook on a relaxed weekend. You will get the reward of delicious leftovers during the week.
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- 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.
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.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 977 Total Fat: 59g Saturated Fat: 22g Trans Fat: 2g Unsaturated Fat: 33g Cholesterol: 255mg Sodium: 499mg Carbohydrates: 14g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 4g Protein: 78g
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Hi there! I’m Karen, a mother of two and a professionally trained cook certified in holistic nutrition.
Have a question or feedback? Get in touch or leave me a comment below — I love hearing from you!