Merlot Beef Ragôut

Sunday April 13, 2014

Here is a wonderfully classic beef stew adapted from a recipe simply called Beef en Casserole once on the menu at the now defunct Russian Tea Room in New York City.  I use a quality Merlot red wine, since the great flavor of the wine is highlighted in the simplicity of this stew. The browning of the meat is important for this dish, so don’t skip it for lack of time. I love this one with spatzle dumplings, it is very old fashioned, but the tea room served it with a fluffy rice pilaff and a green salad on the side.  Save the extra for dinner the next day, or cool and freeze for a future meal. Of course if you were dining on this in the Tea Room, you would have a starter of beluga caviar on toast and a shot of icy cold vodka.


Recommended Size: 1 1/2 to 3 quart cooker

Machine Setting: Low

Cook Time: 7 to 8 hours

Serves 2 with leftovers


  • 1 3/4 pounds lean boneless beef stew meat, chuck or bottom round, trimmed of fat and cut in to 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or pressed
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced peeled tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 1 cup dry red wine, such as Merlot


Sprinkle the cubes of beef with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until very hot.  Add half of the beef and brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the crock. Repeat the browning with the remaining beef.

Add the onions to the skillet and brown slightly over medium-high heat; add the garlic for 15 seconds or so then add to the crock with the meat.  Pour the tomatoes and wine into the sauté pan and place over high heat.  Stir constantly while bringing to a boil, scraping up the browned bits accumulated on the bottom of the pan; pour into the crock.

Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours, until the meat is tender.  The last 45 minutes of cooking, check for the consistency.  If the juices are too thin for you, increase the heat to HIGH and leave the cover off, letting some moisture evaporate.

Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2006, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2014

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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