Serves 4 to 6.

Note: This is a good make-ahead stew, as it tastes great reheated the next day. Shallots are small members of the onion family; they are added halfway through the cooking so they keep their shape. The dish also can be made in a Dutch oven within the oven. From "The Slow Cook Book," by Heather Whinney.

• 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided

• 21/2 lb. chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 3/4 c. red wine

• 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

• 1 cinnamon stick

• 1 tsp. ground cloves

• 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg

• 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped

• 1 tbsp. tomato paste

• 13/4 c. hot vegetable stock

• Few sprigs fresh thyme

• Pat of butter

• 1 lb. shallots, peeled and left whole (see Note)


Preheat slow cooker. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add meat, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 6 minutes until lightly browned. Increase heat and add wine and vinegar. Cook for a couple of minutes, then stir in cinnamon stick, cloves, nutmeg and garlic, and cook for another minute.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Transfer everything to the slow cooker, pour in the stock and add the thyme. Cover with the lid and cook on low for about 4 hours. (If you're cooking this in the oven, do so for 1 hour at 350 degrees, covered, adding hot water if it appears to dry out.)

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil together with the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until golden, then add them to the slow cooker (or the covered pot in the oven). Continue to cook for another 4 hours in the slow cooker (or 1 hour in the oven, with the temperature reduced to 325 degrees; add more hot water if needed).

Taste and season, remove cinnamon stick and thyme, and serve with creamy mashed potatoes or baby roasted potatoes.