Thyme & Wine Beef Stew (Gluten-free!)

WHEN A SNOWSTORM IS RAGING, and temperatures have plunged into the single digits, my advice is to make a French beef stew. As it simmers quietly, the stew will fill your kitchen (and probably your entire house, too) with the comforting aromas of thyme, red wine, garlic, and caramelized meat. My recipe for this melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness:

Note#1: Normally I use a cast iron skillet for browning meats and vegetables. But yesterday, for the sake of experiment, I used my non-stick electric skillet, heated to 350°F. The appliance worked like a charm.

Note #2: For this slow-simmering stew, the cheapest beef is the best beef. I used choice, boneless chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes.

Note #3: The temperature outside my window is currently minus 6°F. Don’t pretend you’re not jealous.

To start, take 1 1/2 to 2-pounds of boneless stewing beef…

And blot it dry with paper towels. (Wet meat won’t brown properly.)

Then pour a glug of olive oil into a big, pre-heated skillet. Add the beef, browning it on all sides until a rich walnut color is achieved — about 8 minutes.

Transfer the meat to a big purple pot.

Next, slice up 5 fat (or 8 skinny) carrots…

And roughly dice a big white onion.

Then run outside to your potting shed, shivering all the while because you neglected to wear a coat, and grab some of the hard-neck garlic you grew last summer.

The garlic will look much nicer if you rub off the dirt, and trim the roots.

Smash the individual cloves (you’ll need 8 in total) with a rubber mallet or the flat of a jar. Then slip off the skins.

Tip a little more olive oil into the skillet, add the carrots and onions, and saute them until they begin to caramelize (turn lightly-brown) — about 8 minutes.

Then add the garlic, but don’t let it brown.  Brown garlic is bitter garlic. Just let it mingle with the other veggies for about 60 seconds.

Add the veggies to the meat.

Now deglaze the skillet: Add some red wine, and, using a spatula or a wooden spoon, stir it about while it boils, to scrape up any stuck-on (and highly flavored) bits of meat and vegetable. Tip the wine into the pot.

Also add to the pot a handful of coarsely-chopped flat-leaved parsley…

A generous pinch of kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper…

And a big pinch (about one 1/2 teaspoon) of dried thyme leaves.

Cover the works with an entire bottle of red wine. It doesn’t have to be an expensive wine. But it should be something you would gladly drink. For the stew pictured here, I used a moderately-priced ($13.99) French Bordeaux.

Bring the stew to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let the ingredients simmer quietly — not boil — for 2 hours.

Ladle the finished stew into a fine-mesh sieve that you’ve placed atop a big bowl.

Empty the contents of the sieve onto your serving platter, and return the liquid to your cooking pot.

Shall we make a voluptuous sauce for this stew? I mean, a sauce that’s so delicious you’ll be tempted to drink it as is?


Bring the liquid to a boil.

Then add one tablespoon of cornstarch to one 1/4 cup of cold water, and whisk them together to make a smooth paste.

Whisk the cold cornstarch mixture into the boiling liquid. The sauce will thicken in about 30 seconds.

Tip: Want a thicker sauce? Add more cornstarch blended with cold water.

Ladle the sauce over the meat and veggies.

Then light a fire in the dining room (or, lacking a fireplace, just ignite some candles — this stew invites romance)…

And pour yourself a goblet of Gamay or some other excellent red wine.

Then dive into this fragrant, soul-warming, rapturously delicious beef stew, which, quite honestly, was no trouble to make. I served my own portion on a bed of hot, cooked rice. You might prefer to lay the sexy works on a bed of boiled potatoes. Or pasta. Or a thick, toasted slice of Pain de Mie.

Need a printer-friendly, copy-and-paste version of the above recipe? Here goes:

Thyme & Wine Beef Stew
Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for 6-8 generous servings
1 1/2 to 2 lbs boneless chuck stewing beef
Olive oil
5 fat carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
8 fat cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
1 bunch flat-leaved parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon (or slightly more) kosher salt, and grinds of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bottle (750 ML) good red wine, such as a French Bordeaux
1 generous tablespoon cornstarch, blended with 1/4 cup wine or water (for thickening the sauce)

Special Equipment – a large cast-iron skillet, or an electric skillet heated to 350°F.; a large, heavy-based pot with a lid; a wire mesh sieve

1. Dry the meat by blotting it with paper towels (wet beef won’t brown properly). Set the skillet over a medium flame, and add a glug of olive oil. Working in batches if your skillet is not particularly large, brown the beef on all sides until a deep walnut color is achieved. Then transfer the meat to the large pot.

2. Pour a little more olive oil into the skillet, add the carrots and onion, tossing them about until they begin to brown — about 8 minutes. Then add the garlic, and stir it about for 60 seconds. Add the vegetables to the pot. Then pour some wine into the skillet, let it come to a boil, and scrape up the stuck-on (and highly-flavored) bits and pieces of meat and vegetables. Pour this deglazing liquid into the pot.

3. Add the parsley, and the salt, pepper, and thyme to meat and vegetables. Then add the entire bottle of red wine to completely cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and then reduce the heat. Let the stew simmer quietly for 2 hours.

4. Set the sieve over a large bowl; ladle the stew into the sieve. Pour the contents of the sieve onto a serving platter, and return the liquid to the cooking pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then whisk in the cold cornstarch mixture. Stir for about one minute while the sauce thickens. Ladle the sauce over the beef.

5. Serve on a bed of pasta, rice, or boiled potatoes.

Folks, Thyme and Wine Beef Stew is home-cooking at its best. I hope you’ll try it someday. If you wish, you can cook the stew on Saturday, refrigerate it overnight, and then reheat and serve it on Sunday. Yes — it’s a stew that will wait for you.

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Related Posts:
Easy Cocktail Appetizer: Onion and Asiago Rounds
Kevin’s Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup
Tuscan Perfection: Panna Cotta


  1. Chip Barkel says:

    Can you talk sometime about hard neck garlic (vs soft neck). I bought some at the farmers’ market this summer and used the green with onions and scrambled eggs. Was so delicious.

    I have planted some now and bought several bulbs from a local organic gardener. It tastes so superior.

    Thanks for all you do. (I would love to come for lunch sometime!)


  2. This sounds and looks like one I will definitely try when our winter rolls around. It’s quite hot here in the land downunder but at least we have a seabreeze today.

  3. Darn, I can’t make this – I only have a big RED pot, and it clearly requires purple. ;-))

    This looks lovely – one question, though – what brand of dried thyme do you use? Lately, all the dried thyme I’ve bought smells and tastes very musky/dirty. I can only use fresh thyme because I can’t stand the smell or taste of the dried. Has anyone else noticed this?

  4. Just a question: why not brown everything in your Le Creuset? I was just given one for Christmas and am planning on a Moroccan spiced beef stew and wonder if I should not brown the beef and aromatics in the French pot.

  5. Hi Chip – Hardneck garlic has a better taste. Plus you get the fun of garlic scapes, which, as you said, are absolutely delicious. Most supermarkets sell the softneck variety simply because it has a longer shelf-life.

    Hi Beth – I use McCormick’s “Gourmet Collection” dried thyme leaves. The scent is powerful, (as is the case with certain dried herbs), but it is not, to my nose, musky. I’ve also used fresh thyme for this stew, but I tie the sprigs up with cotton string for easy removal (otherwise I’d have to fish out the woody stems).

    Mo – I prefer to brown the meat and veggies in a skillet because I can do them all in one layer and in one batch. Also, it’s easier to see how the browning/caramelizing is coming along, because the skillet walls are shallow, not deep like those of a Dutch oven. I hope these reasons make sense to you!

  6. This looks scrumptious. Question – I do not have a purple pot or a nice skillet like yours, I only have cast iron; do you think the stew would turn out okay or do I need different cookware?

  7. Nancy Jalaty says:

    Kevin, will def make it in the next week or so. Very excited!

  8. Jan Evancho says:

    OK, I’m drooling just reading the recipe and imagining the smell wafting through your house as it cooks. Then the dancing woodfire. The red wine. The snow. Ahhhhhhh.

  9. I am smacking myself as I made a venison stew tonight and I wish I’d thought to add thyme. I love thyme! Oh well, next time!

  10. This looks absolutely mouth-watering and delicious. Thanks a lot for the recipe – I am sure we will try this soon!
    Have a nice weekend, Monika from Germany & Provence

  11. Cary Bradley says:

    You win! I’m on my way over!!! :) Kevin, do you store your garlic outside? Doesn’t it freeze? I’m storing my shallots and winter squash in the mudroom and wish it was a bit colder. But outside in the potting shed, freeze would worry me. Please explain. Thanks!

  12. Hi Cary – My garlic has resided on an old window screen in the potting shed since July. To my surprise it has endured several freezes. But now I’m afraid to look. The temperature dipped to -13°F last night!

  13. Melissa H. says:

    Gulp. Devine.

  14. The Thyme and Wine Stew sounds delicious. I will look forward to making it. I will definitely try a different wine since I live in the Finger Lakes. We have a unique micro-climate here in central New York growing world class Riesling as well as many other grape varieties including grapes that traditionally grow in Bordeaux. The wine I plan to try first will be Wagner Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Franc from our vineyards in front of our winery on Seneca Lake in Lodi, NY. I look forward to A Garden for a House postings. Thanks for sharing all the recipes and pictures.

  15. Cary Bradley says:

    Isn’t life funny? I had success growing lovely leeks this year, used a few in one of your dishes!, pulled a few more and put in fridge, but as we had a few freezes, finally decided to pull the rest. Laid them on the porch floor where they repeatedly froze and thawed, finally cleaned them up, smelling not terrific, and now they’re in the fridge, with me trying to decide whether to use them or not. Funny, the work we put in to growing, but the harvesting and finding storage space can be, sometimes, too much to deal with. On another subject, my chuck steak is cut into cubes and I’ve just come back here to review the instructions. Thank you!!! :)

  16. I am new here the beef and thyme recipe looks great and If I wasnt making curry today I would make your recipe , have you any any other curries you make ?

  17. KellyinBoston says:

    Delicious-looking recipe, Kevin–Can’t wait to try it next weekend! On garlic, we just pick it near first frost and dry it for a week (knocking off as much dirt as possible). Then we roughly braid the brown leaves and tie the resulting ropes up to the rafters in the unheated basement. This generally gives us garlic all winter, with no concerns about freezing.

  18. Jennifer Hart says:

    Yum! I too do not own a lovely purple pot, my cast iron Dutch oven will have to do. Or the crock pot since it has to simmer for quite a while. May have to make this today.

  19. Kevin,

    Alas, I’m allergic to red wine. Would this recipe work using beer instead?

    You mentioned it was -13. That will probably be our high temperature around here in the next few days. It’s -15 right now. All schools closed tomorrow by order of the Governor. Only the second time in the last ten years that’s happened in MN. Wind chills are predicted to be -50 degrees F. tomorrow!!

  20. Hi Kevin – thank you yet again for a fabulous blog. Looking at your beef stew prep has taken me down one of the best parts of memory lane as I remember my mother making big pots on bitter cold winter days. We would come in from sledding or some other exciting snow play with our red cheeks stinging from the heat of the house, and the overwhelming essence of beef stew would stir the hunger pains. My mom made this stew just like you do! Thanks for the memories, I will be making this very soon!

  21. Kevin:

    As usual, you make cooking fun! What a delectable stew.

    Happy New Year!

  22. Suzanne K says:

    Yum! But I missed your Sous Chef, Miss Lily! Was she curled up in front of the fire to stay warm? Can’t imagine she wasn’t ‘helping’ with all the fabulous scents you’d had to be enjoying! Stay warm and safe all!

  23. Kevin, Looks wonderful. You have deep pockets if you’re cooking with 14.00 bottles of wine. I’m splurging when I cook with 8.00 bottles. I drink the 12.00-15.00 with the meal. Can you really taste the difference when all said and done? We pasture raise our beef so it really doesn’t need much enhancing. I do prefer fresh herbs. Living in the south allows me to grow all flavors of thyme year round. So I use loads of thyme, marjoram,oregano and rosemary. In the summer I make my herbs de province so I use a lot of that, too. I look forward to your posts. I do so envy all the beautiful snow you receive there. I’m sure you must tire of it, but it’s really pretty. Also, on a personal note, is there a reason we never get to meet your partner? I’m sure he’s wonderful to have attracted such a fabulous guy as you. There’s nothing you can’t do.

  24. I noticed a new top “Banner” for your blog. Happy New Year to you, Will, Lily, Camille & Tiger.

  25. The stew sounds amazing. My project for a stormy day. I only have very sweet red wine at home. Hmmmmm I wonder how that will affect it?

  26. Oh Kevin…….this is the FIRST stew recipe that I have ever read that spoke to me!! I can’t wait to try it! I am here in Ventura California with again 75 degree heat; not the winter weather we need but I have suffered through and continue to make my split pea soup among others! I use McCormick Gourmet Collection Thyme Leaves and I agree with you, no musty smell but I prefer fresh leaves!
    Happy New Year!

  27. Bonjour Kevin,

    Your timing is perfect; I was planning on making beef stew tomorrow and will make this one, will bake a loaf of crusty bread to go with it.
    Comfort food at its best.

    Happy New year!

  28. Good stuff this week…copies the stew and panna cotta recipies. We’re in need of more comfort food recipes here in the mountains this winter. Thanks. Stay Warm!

  29. I love all your recipes, but why would you serve white rice with it. Brown rice has so much more texture and flavor, and it’s better for you.

  30. Hi Kevin,

    I look forward to your newsletter with great anticipation and you never disappoint. The stew sounds wonderful – especially during the snowstorm we are currently experiencing, following the nasty ice-storm of last week that decimated our trees all over the city. My old apple tree is now only one third of its former self. We need comfort food indeed..

    Many thanks for sharing all of your interests with us. Happy New Year for 2014 to you and all you hold dear .

  31. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    Just looking at the photos, I think I can smell this stew!

  32. Although we are in Florida, the climate in Tallahassee can bring chilly weather punctuated with high humidity so this is perfect recipe after coming home from work chilled by the wet cold. Thanks to your enthusiasm and great suggestion, I will be making this stew this week.

  33. You and your recipe are an inspiration on a very snowy, cold, windy day in Indiana. We have a foot of snow and it’s still coming down. I have some stew beef, red wine and my own dried thyme so this recipe will get cooked tomorrow! This home needs the aroma of this lovely meal cooking to perk up the inhabitants. Our high temperature tomorrow will be NEGATIVE 11. You see why we need this…Would someone send some warm temps our way please???

  34. I have a similar recipe for a French beef stew. It includes baby peas added and cooked for a few minutes right before serving. This is my favorite beef stew. But may I go back to the question and answer regarding browning the ingredients in a separate pot? I have had two Le Creuset dutch ovens in my 50 year cooking history. I got a second one when the finish on the interior of my first one, long blackened and dull, began to pop off in small patches. When I got a new one, I was determined to keep the inside looking white and shiny, but in time it, too, darkened. It still cooks fine but looks terrible inside. I always thought these cast iron cookers were made for browning meats, but now I wonder if you manage to keep yours looking good by using a different pot. Does your Le Creuset stay white inside?

  35. Hi I really enjoy your website and news letter.Todays recipe looks yummy! Do you ever publish any recipes done in a pressure cooker ? I have an electric one and comes in handy after working all day!

  36. Hi Susan M. – Despite heavy and regular use, the interior of my Le Creuset Dutch ovens and gratin pans have all remained white. And now, thanks to your comment, I know why: I never use them for browning meat!

    K. Hussey – When I was a child, my mother used a pressure cooker for all kinds of things, including the super-fast cooking of dried beans. Alas, a pressure cooker is one kitchen gadget I do not own.

  37. Grandma Sandy R. says:

    Can I substitute anything else for the wine? We do not keep or use any alcohol in the house. Thanks

  38. Hi Grandma Sandy R. – Red wine is essential to the unique (and exquisite) taste and perfume of this dish. But if it’s any encouragement to you, there will be no alcohol in the finished product. It will evaporate during the 2 hour simmering-period.

  39. It sounds delicious. I’m in Oregon and it’s cold here — not as cold as you, tho — in the 20s at night. I am going to the store to get all the ingredients and make it for Monday’s dinner. I’m sure it will be wonderful!

  40. First off LOVE the purple wall!Eggplant I should say………
    Second,GLUTEN FREE key words for me!
    I bought the ingredients today!Will be cooking in a RED pot tomorrow!
    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

  41. Rosalinde Weber says:

    This reminds me of a French stew called Daube, that is made with lots and lots of red wine also. This looks even better, and I’m dying to try it. Thank you for another mouth-watering idea. You help us enjoy life! Bonne nouvelle annee to you and all the followers reading this!

  42. K. Hussey says:

    Thanks Kevin, Have the lady with the stained pots try the Magic eraser pads they work great also on stainless steel makes the shine sparkle with no added detergent.

    You should really try the pressure cooker it’s a great tool and makes great mac and cheese in six minutes from scratch.My daughter and Granson love it. I use an electric one.

  43. Marlyn, try using a dark brown beer or stout in place of the red wine. It will be delicious!

  44. Linda DeVona says:

    Kevin! I’ve got everything simmering in a big electric skillet as I post this, since your recipe looked so good! Of course, I didn’t have enough red cooking wine so I added some water, and substituted dried parsley, but basically it’s similar EXCEPTmay have to thicken it at the end with a flour/ water paste since I don’t have cornstarch on hand…will let you know how it turns out!! Thank you for the inspiration! You helped me discover tarragon last year, too!

  45. Hi Linda – That’s music to my ears! To thicken the sauce without cornstarch, make a Beurre Manie: Mix equal parts softened butter and flour together to form a thick paste. Then, after you’ve strained out the meat and veggies, add teaspoon-size bits of the Beurre to the simmering wine. As the butter melts, it will separate and evenly distribute the flour particles, which will swell and thicken the liquid.

  46. sherry kanoski says:

    Kevin, when you brought your garlic in from potting shed, it did not look frozen. Is your shed heated? I did not keep my onions or garlic in my shed cuz it would be frozen here in SW Michigan, especially at minus 6. Stew looks yummy. Thanks for all you do.

  47. Penny Simmons says:

    I made this.

    It is to die for.

    I added a bit of chicken bone broth (from my own pastured chicken!) for the immune boosting properties and had to use Yellow Tail Shiraz as my liquor store down the street did not have one bottle of Bordeaux, and I even used a leaner sirloin tip roast instead of chuck, but my, oh, my the rave reviews were flying!!

    I paired it with Irish Freckle Bread – it was divine!

    Thanks ever so much for the recipe!

  48. I have this sitting on my stove right now, waiting for dinner time. My house smells amazing! Thank-you for your recipes, each one I’ve tried has yielded fantastic, delicious results :) I’m excited to hear how my company likes tonight’s dinner!

  49. Hi Kevin, Going to try Winter Sowing this year, read about it last year. My seeds are arriving and I’m ready for summer. By the way, I am jealous of your outdoor temp. I live in Northern Minnesota and am excited about it getting above zero tomorrow! It will feel like a heat wave after the 35-40 below we’ve have for weeks now (that’s temperature not wind chill).

  50. Ooooookay. Finally got this made last night/today. I say it that way because I did the browning of beef and veg last night, and then put the whole shebang in a baking bag, then cooked in the crock pot today. I used a domestic Old Vine Zinfandel, (about $9,) and also added chunks of potato.

    The verdict: YUM. One thing that is interesting is, I think the potatoes absorbed a lot of the alcohol in the wine- you can feel the “burn” when you bite into them. :)

  51. Hi Kevin, I had a gluten-free day (if you don’t count the homemade biscuits I had with the stew) yesterday. I began the day with those very good gluten-free pancakes on your website, then made this stew. My wine of choice was a bottle of table red called Il Bastardo. I bought the wine last summer for the little, rolly-polly man pictured on the label. It reminded me of a spring day in the Umbrian countryside, and … it was cheap. Il Bastardo enriched the stew and made for a very good meal.

  52. Yes, I did drink the sauce and it was AWESOME! What a recipe; rivals the chicken and mushrooms with tarragon sauce recipe!

  53. Simmering now….should be ready in another hour, Kevin.

  54. Kevin, I’m just catching up on recipes… The “Deglaze the Skillet” photo leads me to ask: What sort of pan are you using? Can’t tell if it’s a square cast iron, or some sort of electric…? Been needing to cook some beef stew for my extremely carnivorous son. Thanks, Amy

  55. Hi Amy – See note #1 under the first paragraph. Instead of using my cast-iron skillet for browning/deglazing, as I normally would, I decided to experiment with an electric skillet. This appliance worked perfectly, and because of its large surface, I was able to brown all of the meat in one batch. Hope you and your son enjoy the stew — it’s outrageously delicious!

  56. Lori in Nebraska says:

    Ah what timing! I was planning a beef stew for dinner today and then your newsletter showed up with this. Excellent!

  57. Can’t believe I’ve actually got all the ingredients for this stew lol! Now I will have to make it and trust me Kevin living near Chicago we’re having a blisteringly cold winter -19 last week! Definitely need this stew to warm up hubby and me – thank you for the lovely recipe:) Stay Warm!

  58. Ann Marie says:

    Looks delicious and I learned two things while reading this.

    1. Dry the beef first.

    2. Don’t brown the garlic.

    Definitely want to try this.

    Thanks for sharing.

  59. Jim lambert says:

    This was amazing!!! I had no idea when I signed up for your gardening website I would become something of a chef as well…I love this website….my friends were impressed(I did give you the credit) and we had a lovely dinner.
    Thanks again.

  60. Kevin, I tried this tonight. WOW! It was fantastic. I actually cooked it in a dutch oven at 350F. Worked like a charm. I am considering serving this to my son, the executive chef of THE Granite Club in Toronto. It was superbe. :)

    BTW, When is the open house to your garden? If you could email me back, I would appreciate it. I love the Boston area, and have a sister in the area as well, and would love to incorporate your garden into a visit from chilly Ontario.

  61. manju mehra says:

    I am making it right now, hope fully it will be as brilliant as yours. Kevin what is the diff. between corn flour and corn starch. i have both and the former is slightly yellow in color, and the latter white. can they be inter changed in a recipe???? just lv all the info u put out. thanx. lv Manju

  62. Jim & John – So glad the stew worked out for you.

    Manju – Corn flour, or “corn meal” is used for baking (i.e., corn bread). Corn starch is used for thickening sauces.

  63. Valerie James says:

    I love the fact that you used so many great pictures for those of us who get cross eyed looking at recipes alone. It’s almost being there with you while you cook. Thank you.

  64. Hi Kevin:

    I made this for my husband for Valentine’s day – we just moved to Italy for an expatriate assignment for his work. I’ve been navigating the beautiful market here in Modena (which is absolutely fantastic) and doing my best with my currently limited Italian language skills. The fresh parsley here is amazing (and abundant and very inexpensive), and really flavored the stew nicely, although I probably added too much (bunches here are HUGE). I used a bottle of locally/regionally produced Sangiovese and the overall flavor was wonderful. The stew was easy and fun to make, and really helped this new place feel like home. I’m a recent add-in to your blog and finally took the plunge to read through some of your recipes (several of which I plan to make in the future). Even though this stew is very hearty, I stole a Jamie Oliver recipe for perfect roasted potatoes and served the stew alongside of those, and it was a really good combination. I finished off the meal with your recipe for Panna Cotta, my first time attempting to make it, and it was a perfect finish (along with of course, some caramel sauce, a fresh strawberry, and a glass of Prosecco). Needless to say we didn’t eat much the next day because the meal stayed with us! I will be experimenting with the cuisine here and will send you any local recipes I manage to acquire. Anyway, sorry for being so long-winded, but thanks again for the inspiration and the fantastic humor and attitude with which you write your recipes and posts!

  65. With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My site has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created
    myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over
    the internet without my authorization. Do you know any ways to help prevent content from being
    ripped off? I’d really appreciate it.

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