Merlot Beef Ragout

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Here is a wonderfully classic beef stew adapted from a recipe simply called Beef en Casserole, which was once on the menu at the now-defunct Russian Tea Room in New York City. I use a quality Merlot, since the great flavor of the red 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 stew with Spaetzle Dumplings. The restaurant served it with fluffy rice pilaf 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 Russian Tea Room, you would have a starter of beluga caviar on toast and a shot of icy cold vodka.

Serves2 with leftovers

Cooking MethodSlow Cooking



Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCooking for a date

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Halal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free

EquipmentCrock Pot


Taste and TextureMeaty, Winey


  • 1¾ pounds lean, boneless beef stew meat, chuck or bottom round, trimmed of fat and cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium-size onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • One 14.5-ounce can diced peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup dry red wine, such as Merlot


  1. 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 slow cooker. Repeat the browning with the remaining beef.

  2. Add the onions to the skillet and brown slightly over medium-high heat; add the garlic and cook just for 15 seconds or so, then add the onions and garlic to the crock.

  3. Pour the tomatoes and wine into the sauté pan and raise the heat to high. 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.

  4. During the last 45 minutes of cooking, check the consistency. If the juices are too thin for you, increase the heat to HIGH and leave the cover off, letting some moisture evaporate. Serve hot.


  1. Cooker: 1½ to 3 quart

  2. Setting and cook time: Low for 7 to 8 hours; optional to cook on High for last 45 minutes

  3. Slow Cooker Tip: Prepping Ahead

  4. If you are pressed for time, prep your ingredients the day before cooking by chopping vegetables and storing them separately in sealed containers or plastic storage bags. Cover cut potatoes with water to prevent discoloring. Ground meat can be browned and refrigerated overnight as long as it is fully cooked (browned roasts, cubed meat, and poultry all need to be prepped just before cooking for safety, since browning them does not fully cook them). Fresh poultry pieces can be quickly grilled on an outdoor grill, then immediately frozen for later use. Ingredients, except for meat and poultry, can be assembled in the crock and refrigerated, covered, overnight; in the morning, you just insert the crock into the housing and turn on the machine.


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At what point would you add potatoes?

those are notes for cooking with a slow cooker, its not for the recipe.


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