Monday, April 13, 2009

Crockpot Boeuf En Daube

From the emptiness of the bowl by the time I got around to photographing it you might be able to guess how good it was. And you would probably be right. After all the time I spent stressing about large amounts of expensive beef going to waste, this ended up being my favorite part of the meal. That was a pretty impressive feat considering the amazing things that were on my Easter dinner menu.

Cauliflower “Potatoes”
Steamed Fresh Green Beans
Boeuf en Duebe in the Crockpot
Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake

Not a tradition holiday menu by any means but it worked out well. Doing the main dish in the crockpot really freed us up to concentrate on the side dishes, not to mention enjoying the company of my family rather than running around slaving over a hot stove. It was even less maintence than a roast or a turkey. The day we were cooking it that is, the days leading up to it we spent a lot of time babying this beef.

First we had to go out and buy a crockpot big enough to handle 5 pounds of beef, a pound of shallots and a bottle of red wine. This was actually good motivation to finally go out and do something we've been talking about for awhile. As much as we use the crockpot we really needed a nice one that was programable, it will make our lives much easier.

Next I spent the week making sun dried orange peel. This wouldn't have been a problem except there was no sun to speak of most of the days leading up to Easter. Thankfully Friday and Saturday were sunny and that seemed to give the orange peel long enough to dry out. But leave it up to the weather to add extra stress to preparing this meal. Supposedly fresh orange peel works just as well but we didn't have to find out this time.

Now came shopping for wine. Burgundy isn't an easy wine to find and the couple that were in town were all over $20 which was more than I was willing to spend on a wine that was going in a recipe. Someday I will put the investment into buying a nice bottle of Burgundy but it was not going to be now. Beaujolais is technically in the Burgundy region of France and there were several I'd tried before that I thought would work fine to cook with. The Georges Deboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau is too green to make a drinkable glass of wine but I think it did fine in the beef. It actually helped to make the recipe a bit less boozy which I was worried about.

This recipe also wanted cognac which was more of an investment that I was looking to make that day so I went for the next best thing and got a small bottle of Korbel brandy. Both made of them are made of grapes, who cares, right? There was so little of it in the actual dish it didn't make a difference, you could probably leave the distilled liquor out of this all together and not even notice, the wine is plenty.

With this the crock pot we served up the soup and finished up the vegetables during the last hour of cooking time. We also opened a couple bottles of wine. The Parducci Petite Shiraz was a huge disappointment. I was excited about it being organic and sustainable produced on a family farm which is all well and good except the wine stunk. It tasted like fermented grape juice and nothing else, it had no subtlety or depth. My mother asked me to review it and “do my thing.” All I could say was, “It tastes like grapes.”

At that point I opened the Conquista Malbec, the wine that is the love of my life, which I knew I liked and actually had good things going on in it. It's produced biodynamically without pesticides but doesn't have the expensive organic certification. At the same time its actually a good well rounded spicy wine unlike so many wines that make a big deal about being organic or green which they use as their selling point forgetting to actually put the effort into making a good wine. So many of these organic wineries just throw an unpalatable mix of grapes together and think the organic label will keep people coming back for more. A boring undrinkable wine is bad regardless of its sustainability. Unfortunately I've yet to find many good organic wines, they all taste largely the same.

Ah well, my family isn't big on wine anyway. My mother got to try a couple different wines she wouldn't have gotten to otherwise, that all that mattered. Hopefully the strange Easter won't keep my family from coming back for another meal. They were probably glad they brought their own bread to comfort them through courses of food they're never heard of.

The beef was actually pretty decent. I don't know that I would ever feel the need to put that much effort into making it again but it was a fun experience. It tasted nice served over the faux potatoes with some green beans on the side. A pleasant special occasion meal for sure. Now I know what the big deal about Beef Burgundy is.

Crockpot Boeuf En Daube

5 pounds prime beef, cubed & trimmed of fat
1 pound shallots, peeled and coursely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped finely
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 bottle Burgundy wine

2 tablespoons oil
1 pound smoked bacon, chopped
1/2 ounce dried mushrooms (we used a couple ounces fresh buttons mushrooms)
6 pieces of dried orange peel *
1 tablespoon brown sugar (we omitted this)
4 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 8-ounce can chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons arrowroot
2 tablespoons cognac (or brandy)

Marinade the beef with the herbs, shallots and garlic over night in the bottle of red wine in a sealed container.

Before cooking, drain wine and reserve for later. In a large skillet sear and brown the beef pieces over high heat in the oil until brown, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Place browned beef into the crock pot.

Fry the bacon pieces until crispy and golden brown. Drain bacon, reserving fat for later and add bacon to the beef in crockpot.

Brown the shallots and garlic in the bacon fat then add to the crockpot. Add all the other ingredients, except the arrowroot and cognac to the crock pot, including the reserved wine. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for up to 6 hours. (If you want to use the oven preheat it to 325 and cook slowly for approximately 4 to 6 hours; check towards the end, the meat should be extremely tender.)

Half an hour before the end of cooking time use a ladle to remove some of the wine stock from the crock pot. Place in a small bowl and whisk in the arrowroot. Add back into the crockpot to help thicken sauce. It should have the consistency of a glaze not a gravy. Add the cognac to the crockpot and allow to cook until the timer goes off.

Traditionally this dish is made the day ahead of time to allow the meat to further marinate then reheated for serving over mashed potatoes.

* To make dried orange peel, peel 2 oranges and cut peel into narrow strips. Place on a flat surface and leave in direct sunlight for a couple days. Or place on a baking sheet and bake overnight at a very low temperature. Fresh orange peel will work in this recipe as well but will change the intensity of the citrus flavor in this dish.

Original recipe from


Sam said...

I work at Parducci and am sorry to hear that you had a bad bottle; it sounds like an off bottle and does not represent the wine.
If you are in a state we can ship to, I would be happy to send you a replacment bottle. Please email me at

Sara said...

Ooooh, that sounds delicious!