As the weather turns cooler, we tend to want heartier fare. This wonderful recipe for Burly Braised Beef hits the sweet spot for us every time.
This is one of those standby, always-good recipes that makes us fall in love with our French oven all over again each time we cook it.
Remember the terms ‘Dutch Oven’ and ‘French Oven’ and ‘Cocotte’ are used interchangeably.
A quality enamel covered cast iron French oven is worth it’s weight in gold in your kitchen. It ups the ante on pretty much every dish you might choose to cook in it. But for Braised Beef, a good French oven is absolutely essential. No matter what name you call the pot. Nothing braises like cast iron.
Part of the beauty of this recipe for braised beef is the wafting fragrances as it cooks. And then the aromas that linger long after dinner are just as joyous.
A decent 2-3 pound chuck roast will run you about $17, at least in my locale. It easily gives 8-10 servings, so it comes out to around $2 a serving or a little less. And one of the beauties of this meal is that pretty much any side you can imagine pairs with it beautifully.
We particularly like serving our (fully Keto, by the way) Amazing Cauliflower Rice with it.
Our favorite wine pairings with braised beef are a good Cabernet Sauvignon, a nice Beaujolais, or a good Bordeaux Rouge. Pinot Noir can pair with it, but to our palates, less effectively. (You will find a surprising wine suggestion that is very budget friendly at the end of this article.)
We always opt for fresh herbs from our garden whenever possible. But in a pinch, dried herbs certainly work. We have linked to our best finds for top quality herbs at the best prices we can locate. You will find links to ingredients in the recipe. Fresh is always best. But if you don’t have fresh herbs close at hand, use the best herbs you can.
The quality of the ingredients always determine the outcome.
Remember one of the secrets to this recipe is using a good enamel-coated cast iron French oven. That allows you to get a good sear on the edges of the meat. That is the braising. Without the braising, you just have a regular roast beef. And believe me, it’s the braising of the meat that ups the flavor ratio.
When you are braising the edges, leave it. Don’t move it around a lot. Let it get a fairly dark brown before you turn it.
With any cast iron pot, it is important to heat the pan gradually. Start at a medium low, increase the heat a couple of minutes later.
For this recipe you still heat the pot in stages, but be sure to turn the heat up to high before you put the chuck in the pot. You want a really hot pot for this recipe. If you don’t hear the chuck sizzle when the meat touches the pan, the pan’s not hot enough yet. Take the meat out and heat the pan at a slightly higher temperature or wait a few minutes more before you put the meat back in.
It is almost impossible to burn something in enameled cast iron on the stove top so don’t be shy in turning up the heat to get sufficient braising.
- heavy cocotte or French oven (Dutch oven)
- Medium Bowl
- Large Bowl
- 4 tbsp butter divided
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 3 carrots cut to 1-in slices
- 2 leeks washed and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
- 3-4 lbs beef chuck
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 cup dry red wine drinking quality, not "cooking" wine
- 1 cup beef stock or beef bone broth
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary can substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried in a pinch
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme can substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried in a pinch
- 2 bay leaves
- several sprigs of fresh parsley optional, placed on top of each serving as garnish
- Heat half the butter in your French oven over medium heat on the stove top. Saute onions, celery, and carrots for a few minutes, untill the onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
- Pour in the balsamic vinegar and Worchestershire sauce. Stir for a few seconds to glaze the pan to get out all the caramelized bits of vegetables on the bottom of the pan.
- Remove vegetables from the French oven and set them aside in the medium bowl.
- Prepare the chuck roast by patting it dry with paper towels. It needs to be dry in order to carmelize the edges well.
- Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in your larger bowl. Dredge the meat in the flour mixture, coating it evenly on all sides.
- Add the other half of the butter to your French oven over medium-high to high heat. Put in the chuck roast and sear it till the outside is golden brown, turning it to get all sides evenly caramelized. This is the braising process that sets the recipe apart from a simply roast beef.
- As the meat sears, preheat your oven to 300°F.
- Turn off the stove top and add the remaining ingredients to your French oven.
- Place the French oven in the middle of your oven and bake for about 3 hours, checking it at 2 hours to see how quickly it is cooking.
- Before serving, remove the bay leaf and the sprigs of thyme and rosemary.
Want to cook this the way we do to ensure the best possible flavor?
Here are the links to the equipment we use for this recipe.
The colors we list in this article may vary from what we have in our own kitchen because we tend to shop for the best price at the time we are shopping, then pick our favorite colors out of the best prices. We find one of the many beauties of real French kitchens is that color is both embraced and mixed with great joy.
Both the Le Creuset and the Staub product lines are designed with the French mix-and-match color concept in mind. All of their colors work together beautifully.
However, if you are locked into the everything-must-match-my-Marseilles-butter-dish idea, both of these premier lines retain colors for many years. So it usually is pretty easy to match exact color if that is what you want to do.
But do be aware you may pay a premium price for color. And be aware prices vary among colors and seem to be ever changing. A cocotte in Grendine may be the best priced color today but jump to premium pricing next week. Or even later this afternoon.
The prices listed in the pictures below may change by the time you branch to them. We have no control over price changes. So if you find what you want at a price you want, jump on it right then.
And yes, So Frenchly is an Amazon Affiliate and may make a (very) small commission on any purchase branched from our site. But you never pay a penny more and we never steer you to a product we have not researched, tested, or personally use in our own kitchen.
The 6.75 quart enamel on cast iron oval Le Creuset cocotte we link to here is in a lovely color called Marine. As of the date of this post, it can be purchased online from Amazon for $40 to $50 less than any other color we can find online. It is sent with free shipping if you have Amazon Prime — which given the heft of these pieces is a really important purchase consideration. You should be able to branch to other colors through this link. Be aware prices on Amazon change not just daily but sometimes hourly.
The 7 quart enamel on cast iron oval Staub cocotte shown is in Staub’s classic Basil. If you have read our previous articles on French ovens, you may recall our first Staub purchase was the round 5.5 quart round cocotte in this exact color of Basil. This link also branches to at least a few other colors. And this particular vendor ships free regardless of Prime status.
The oval shape is not “required” for any recipe.
The shape of these cocottes (French ovens, Dutch ovens, whatever name you may call them) is a matter of personal preference.
You will find that the 5.5 quart round cocotte can accommodate almost anything the 6.75 quart oval one can.
I would suggest your first purchase of one of these premium kitchen angels to be at least the 5.5 quart size, not smaller. It’s the perfect size for a 2-4 person household for almost every dish you will cook.
Some people say the oval fits fowl better than the round. We happen to love the aesthetics of the oval shape — but aesthetics alone usually cost about $100.
However, if you have a large family, the slightly larger 7 quart (actually 6.75 quart) size is probably worth the money so you can easily cook larger birds. And while one of the few things the 5.5 round probably won’t accommodate is a turkey, the larger oval cocotte usually will.
If you are the family member who usually hosts Thanksgiving or Christmas or other larger family gatherings, a 7 quart oval cocotte is worth the additional money.
Our kitchen standby is the 5.5 quart round Staub cocotte pictured above in the product link row. You see it here in Staub’s White because it happens to be the best deal on the market as of the date of this post. We note here that the Amazon vendors’ inventories seem to be quite low on Staub cookware as of the date of this post.
The Le Creuset version of the 5.5 quart round cocotte is shown above in Oyster. We want to point out here that the neutral colors in either Le Creuset or Staub are usually not the colors discounted. So if you are interested in keeping your cookware neutral, this is a great deal. Besides, the Oyster shade is one of our favorite colors in the Le Creuset line. Le Creuset’s Oyster is a medium-tone warm gray that blends with any color or decor. The Amazon link we have given here branches to several other color choices, at varying price points.
What about the wine?
We promised a surprising choice. And here it is.
We absolutely LOVE this Recas Castle Cabernet Sauvignon from Romania. In fact this wine is absolutely the best bargain red purchase we know of on the American market right now. You can order it online from Total Wine for under $6 a bottle.
Yep. You read that right.
This hearty red is downright CHEAP. But we guarantee if you do a blind taste test you will never in a million years guess the price of it. It holds it own with wines in the $15-$20 range.
Romanian wine is a steal on the international market. Look for Romania as an emerging wine region over the next few years.
You heard it here.