Mediterranean Beef Stew In Wine Sauce, is a hearty bowl of tender beef chunks simmered in a rich wine sauce of spices, herbs and a spelt roux.
Rendering some of the fat, to use in the sauce, adds so much flavor and moisture. I like to toss the meat fat into a hot pan with a little butter while caramelizing the onions, then remove the fat.
Approaching the stew with this initial step, creates a base of flavor that I will build on as each ingredient is added.
Though the cubes of beef have had some of the fat trimmed off, because no one wants to bite into a chewy morsel of fat, we definitely want its flavor!
Some of the oldest stews in the world, were recorded (in Biblical writings), from the Mediterranean regions of the world.
Layers upon layers of herbs and spices are simmered into these stews.
Often a goat, hare, or if you were lucky, and it was an important feast day, segments of a lamb went into the pot.
Added to the pot, was a massive amount of herbs and vegetables; simmered for hours over an open fire.
My most favorite, and one of the most popular Mediterranean stews made today, is the Tajine.
In a clay pot or dish, with a cone shaped lid, designed with an air hole at the top, a stew is simmered on top of the stove, low and slow.
I think the crock pot got its original design idea from a Tajine clay pot, but what do I know…
Ancient Stews Of The Mediterranean
The air hole on top of the Tajine lid is designed to allow steam to escape, therefore reducing water in the sauce, and thickening it into a luscious gravy.
In my opinion, this was an ancient Mediterranean technique of thickening a stew, long before the French created the ‘roux’!
Mediterranean Spiced Lamb Tajine with Apricots is the Tajine (also spelled Tagine), I will make most often for family and friends.
It is an ancient technique not easily duplicated in modern cooking.
Wine Sugar As It Is Used To Tenderize Meat
Cooking with fruit and meats together, is a Mediterranean technique of tenderizing the meat from the sugar molecules in the fruit.
This technique adds a balance of sweet to the savory, sometimes hot or spicy dishes.
I find that wine, and its sugar content, will do much the same, as well as impart flavor and acidity to the sauce.
Cooking Stews With Wine
As mentioned above, simmering meats and fruits together in a savory, sometimes spicy dish, is a technique I grew up with. Wine… of course, is a fruit!
In this luscious Mediterranean beef stew, the only liquid I added, as all the ingredients simmered, was half a bottle of red wine.
I used red wine because I was cooking with a red meat. The wine helped to intensify, enhance and bring out the flavors of the ingredients as they married together into one dish.
When cooking with a light colored meat, such as turkey, chicken or rabbit, I prefer to use a dry white wine, so the delicate color of the meat is not stained, as it would if I used a red wine.
Most every year, for the holidays, I make it a point to cook Rabbit In Wine, which I find enhances the flavor of the mushrooms, onions and other ingredients that go so well with the delicate rabbit meat.
Since this red wine beef stew cooks low and slow, the alcohol is cooked out and the flavors deepen.
The broth thickens as it reduces into a stock just waiting for a little roux to add its finishing touch, transforming what could look like a soup, into a stew.
How To Make Mediterranean Red Wine Sauce Beef Stew
Once the meat is trimmed of fat (saving the fat to render for flavor), the veggies are peeled and chopped into sizes and shapes consistent with the beef chunks.
Then the layering of flavors then begins, once the meat has been seared to seal the natural juices and flavors, in.
Rendering the fat along with a little butter, while caramelizing the onions, is where the flavors first begin to happen.
Remove the fat and add the meat, veggies and spices. Gently lift and fold the ingredients at the bottom of the pan, to the top several times so that all the ingredients get time at the bottom searing in flavors as well as extracting juices.
Pour the wine in, bring to a gentle boil, lower and simmer with the lid on (slightly, ever so slightly off the edge, allowing a tiny amount of steam to escape), and cook for over an hour.
Red Wine Sauce
Once the stew has reduced its liquids and the meat and veggies are all deep in color and tender, a roux is made and added to the stew.
It will thicken quickly and be ready to serve.
Roux is simply a little butter and flour melted together in a small, separate pan. Then a little liquid from the hot stew is added to the roux mixture until a thick rich sauce is created.
The roux mixture is then transferred into the stew to thicken the remaining liquid in the stew.
This technique makes for a rich red wine sauce in this delicious beef stew.
What To Serve With Mediterranean Beef Stew?
First… Not potatoes! Adding potatoes to a beef stew is not a Mediterranean style stew.
American, Irish, English, German but not Mediterranean.
Secondly, and traditionally, rice or barley is served with beef stew.
Carbs We Love As Sides To Our Beef Stew
In some Mediterranean regions, closer to Italy and parts of France, you might find orzo, or some other type of pasta served alongside a beef stew.
Most commonly, though, you will find a flat bread served with a Mediterranean beef stew.
A flat bread that is brushed with olive oil and dried herbs, such as rosemary or marjoram or fresh parsley.
That is what I prefer to serve with my Mediterranean beef stew in wine!
- Red wine
- Aleppo pepper
- Black cumin
- Spelt flour
- Stew pot with lid – I most prefer a heavy cast iron pot with an enamel finish, such as this one.
- Small sauce pan
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Vegetable peeler
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Wooden or Stainless Steel Cooking Spoon
- Stovetop or burner
Mediterranean Beef Stew In Wine Sauce
- large stock pot or Dutch oven
- 2-2.5 lbs Beef fat trimmed and saved, meat cubed, I used a chuck roast
- 2 Onions chopped
- 5 Celery stalks chopped
- 8 Large Carrots chopped
- 2 cups Mushrooms chopped
- 4 Garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 cups Dry Red Wine
- 1 tbsp Salt or to taste
- 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
- 2 tbsp Black cumin
- 2 tbsp Sumac
- 2 Rosemary sprigs
- 1/4 cup Spelt flour
- 4 tbsp Butter
- Heat a large stock pot. Add into the pot the fat trimmings, 2 tbsp of butter and the chopped onions. Stir and cook until onions are caramelized. Remove pieces of fat.
- Add the meat, celery, carrots, mushrooms, garlic salt and spices to the caramelized onions. Stir several times allowing the ingredients to reach the bottom of the pan to sear and caramelize.
- Pour the wine over the mixture in the pot. Bring to a gentle boil. Lower to barely a simmer. Place the lid on, leaving it slightly ajar to allow steam to escape.
- Cook for 1-hour.
- In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter, add the flour and stir quickly until the flour blends, making a roux.
- Quickly ladle in a spoon at a time of broth from the hot simmering stew, into the roux, whisking the roux as each ladle of broth is added (about 4 in total). Transfer the roux into the stew and stir it to incorporate making a rich wine sauce. Be certain to scrap all the remains from the roux into the pot of stew.
- Simmer on low another 10 minutes. Turn it off and place the lid completely on. The stew is now ready to serve.