Cooking Classes


Catalan Stew with the warm flavours of chocolate and cinnamon

A few years ago I spent Christmas in Paris. It was two weeks of bistros, fine dining and petits dejeuners. And Paris is where I saw the movie Julie and Julia! It was a rainy afternoon and cold so rather than walk and see more sights I chose the coziness of a movie theatre.

But I digress. I remember one meal in particular at a small quiet yet classy restaurant on Ile St. Louis which was within walking distance of my hotel. I ordered a simple beef stew however, it was anything but simple. The flavours were complex, well balanced, beef perfectly tender with hints of chocolate and orange. I didn't take notes but I thought it was perhaps a daube, a Provencal beef stew, yet I have not found a daub recipe with chocolate. This Catalan stew comes close to what I remember.

Catalan Stew

8 oz. pancetta or other unsmoked cured pork
1/3 c. quality cooking oil such as olive, camelina or organic canola
4 lb. stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
2  medium sized yellow onions, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 c. beef stock
1 c. dry red wine
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 - 4 inch cinnamon sticks
4 sprigs fresh thyme or dried
3 strips orange peel
3 tbsp. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
fresh Italian parsley, garnish

Turn oven to 350 F.

In an ovenproof pot add a tablespoon of the cooking oil and chopped pancetta. Saute until lightly browned. Remove to a bowl.

In three batches brown the beef in the same pan and adding more cooking oil as necessary. Remove to the same bowl as pancetta.

Deglaze pot with red wine vinegar. Add to beef mixture.

Add another tablespoon or two of cooking oil. On medium low heat saute onions and garlic until tender but not browned. Add meat back to pot. Add the rest of the ingredients except Italian parsley.

With the lid on the pot cook in the oven for about 2 hours or until beef is tender. Cool. Refrigerate overnight. Next day remove any congealed fat before warming to serve. Serve in heated bowls garnished with chopped Italian parsley. Or as I did, top a dollop of mashed potatoes with the stew and garnish with roasted baby carrots. Serves 8.


  1. Oh my gosh this looks and sounds like heaven! Just that little extra unexpected kick of the chocolate, cinnamon and orange to liven things up and get the people around the table to sit up straight and pay attention to their meal. I will not be making this today - and am glad I waited for the recipe as the orange wasn't in any I read online and love that idea. Also, the image is jaw dropping! Have stew meat waiting in the freezer not likely for next Sunday - as I did use my package for this Sunday dinner (Serbian Goulash on my site) but soon! And more likely for my gal pals as my husband is so finicky when it comes to his beef. Took me years to hide the red wine in recipes - then the herbs - know I could work the chocolate in, but likely not the cinnamon ... orange he might just like.... but cinnamon with his meat? I love it in moussaka and other dishes myself. THANK YOU!!!! OXOX

  2. The cinnamon is so gentle using the cinnamon stick. I was surprised to find it in the recipe but I likely it. Good luck with it.

  3. Wow that sounds good. Yum Yum. Hope 2017 will be a good year for you take care Diane

    1. Diane, so nice to hear from you. I haven't been blogging for such a long time. Hope you are still loving life in the Charente.

  4. Oh boy! This sounds amazing...and perfect on a cold and blustery day! I love the addition of the chocolate.

    1. Kate, I haven't been visiting blogs for so long. Thanks for visiting here. I am going to get back at it.


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