My French Beef Stew Recipe—in the Slow Cooker

You asked for more French slow-cooker recipes, so here’s another: My Slow-Cooked French Beef Stew with Orange and Balsamic Vinegar. It’s a favorite from the Bonne Femme Cookbook, and with a few adjustments, it worked beautifully in the slow cooker. 

My French Beef Stew--in the Slow Cooker

My French Beef Stew with Orange and Balsamic Vinegar–in the Slow Cooker. It’s an update on the classic Boeuf aux Carottes.

Happy Polar Vortex, everyone! Ha–I’m only half kidding. Check back with me in March, but I actually enjoy winter: It’s the coziest of seasons and a great excuse to enjoy all those great French braises that taste so good right now. One of those is a classic Boeuf au Carottes–beef with carrots. Traditionally, it’s a stew made simply of beef, onions, garlic, thyme, wine, and carrots.

While there’s nothing remotely wrong with the original recipe, I couldn’t resist flavoring it up a bit with orange and balsamic vinegar. It’s a recipe I make often from The Bonne Femme Cookbook, but that I’ve refashioned here for the slow cooker.

First, a few pointers (skip to the bottom of this post if you just want the recipe!).

1. Get some good stew meat: You can buy stew meat that’s already cut up, but I find that it can sometimes be lean to a fault. I’m looking for a little marbling! That’s what gives the meat its rich flavor and meltingly tender amazingness. I chose a 7-bone roast, but you can use chuck pot roast as well.

A 7-Bone Pot Roast

A 7-Bone Pot Roast

2. Ready the aromatics and braising liquid: Onion, garlic, thyme, wine, balsamic vinegar, beef broth, fresh orange juice, salt, pepper, and an orange-flavored spirit (such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec—buy an airline-size bottle if you don’t keep this on hand).

Just a few ingredients for so much flavor.

Just a few ingredients for so much flavor.

3. Cut the roast into 2-inch pieces. Yes, you can trim some of the fat….but don’t trim all of it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

7-Bone Pot Roast, cut up for stew

7-Bone Pot Roast, cut up for stew

5. Dredge in flour.…then brown in your slow cooker. If your slow cooker doesn’t have a browning option, you’ll have to do this in a deep skillet.

Browning Stew Meat in the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Slow Cooker

Browning Stew Meat in the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Slow Cooker

7. Before serving, get a gremolata going: diced orange peel, parsley, and garlic. This gives a bracing jolt of freshness to the long-braised stew.

Gremolata (or, since it's French, persillade), with orange peel, parsley, and garlic.

Gremolata (or, since it’s French, maybe we should call it persillade), with orange peel, parsley, and garlic.

And that, my friends is it. Here’s the recipe, with all you need to know. I love serving this with pureed potatoes, though you can also serve it with Any-Night Baked Rice or some parsleyed noodles.

My French Beef Stew--in the Slow Cooker

My French Beef Stew with Orange and Balsamic Vinegar–in the Slow Cooker


Enjoy….and stay warm.


5.0 from 3 reviews
My French Beef Stew Recipe with Orange and Balsamic Vinegar—in the Slow Cooker
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings.
  • 2½ pounds beef chuck roast or 7-bone roast, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • ¼ cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ x 2-inch sticks
  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Dredge beef pieces in the flour, shaking off excess. Brown the meat on all sides in the hot oil a deep skillet (or, in a slow-cooker with a browning setting—I set my Cuisinart at 375°). Transfer the meat to a plate.
  2. Add the onion (along with a touch more olive oil if the pan seems too dry) and cook, stirring, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds more.
  3. Combine the orange juice, red wine, beef broth, Grand Marnier, and balsamic vinegar; add these liquids to the pan (or cooker) and cook, stirring, to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to boiling. Return the meat to the pan (or cooker) and add the thyme. (If using a crockery cooker, transfer the meat and the braising liquid to the cooker at this point).
  4. Cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat is tender. During the last ½ hour of cooking, if using the low-heat setting, switch the cooker onto the high-heat setting. Add grated zest and carrots and cook until the carrots are tender. Before serving, skim fat from surface, if needed. Serve the stew in shallow bowls with potatoes, rice, or noodles; if desired, top with Orange Gremolata (step 5) for a jolt of freshness to the long-simmering meat.
  5. Orange Gremolata: Just before serving, dice together 1 tablespoon grated orange peel, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, and 2 garlic cloves. Sprinkle a little of this on each serving

Other posts you might enjoy:

My French Pot Roast–in the Slow Cooker.
How to Use the Slow-Cooker–The French Way.
Vermouth-Braised Chicken with Black Olives and Prosciutto–in the Slow Cooker.

Also, I wanted to let you know that the slow-cooker I’ve been using to test my recipes is on sale. I’m a huge fan of this  Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central 4-Quart Slow Cooker.  Below is an Amazon affiliate link.  I love the way this cooker will switch to a “warm” setting after the cook-time is done. That means if you’re out and about, the cooker will keep the roast at food-safe (and ready to eat) temperatures until dinner. No more overcooking the meat!

Right now (11-12-2014), it costs  $116—it’s regularly $240. (Once you get to the page, click on the 4-quart option–in my view, it’s the best size for most families.)

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6 + = eleven

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