Beef shoulder braised in red wine with green chard and pearl onions

The weather took a cold turn recently here in Orthez; after several weeks of hearing the weatherman say we were having June weather in April, now it has turned March cold. This chilly spell put me in mind to make something simmered and comforting.

So in passing by the butcher’s shop in the market Saturday, I spotted  a really good looking piece of stewing beef called a palette de bœuf, several inches thick and plenty to serve 4 people. The palette is roughly the equivalent of a blade roast, a bone-in cut cut from the shoulder. It is a piece that definitely needs slow, long cooking; it has plenty of collagen and fat so that it will stay rich and moist as it cooks, and like many of the so-called “lesser cuts” of beef, it is full of flavor.

The basic method of this recipe (marinate/sear/”singer” with flour/braise/finish sauce) can be used with success with many types of stewing meat and with many variations.    Feel free to experiment with ingredients you have on hand. You may discover your new signature dish!

Note the amount of beef used may seem like a lot but remember that during 1) this is bone in weight and 2) slow cooking, the meat shrinks and 3) hey, leftovers!


Beef shoulder braised in red wine with green chard and pearl onions


  • About 3# bone in beef blade roast
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 leek
  • 10 black pepper corns, 2 bay leave, 1 thyme sprigs, 6 cloves
  • 2 cups Red wine
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 2 T White flour
  • 20 pearl onions
  • 1 bunch green chard
  • Butter, salt, pepper, vegetable oil


Serves 4


​1) Peel the garlic, halve, remove the germ.  Peel the carrots and onion, chop roughly.  Split the leek, wash well, chop roughly.

2) Place the blade roast in a large bowl with the prepared vegetables , bay leaves, thyme, cloves and pepper corns. Add the red wine.  Let marinade overnight, turning once after 12 hours.

3) Next morning, drain the meat and veggies into a colander, saving the wine.  Pat the meat dry with a paper towel.  In a heavy lidded casserole or dutch oven, heat 2-3 T of vegetable oil. Sear off the roast on all sides in hot oil.  Move the roast to a plate.

4)  Add the drained marinade vegetables  and spices to the pan and sweat over high heat until they start to color. Add the flour to the pan and stir constantly for a minute or two to cook out the floury taste. Adding a small amount of flour now will assure that your finish sauce has just a bit of body and unctuousness. Add the cognac to the pan and stir until smooth.

5) Return the meat to the pan. Add the marinade liquid. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the meat is very tender. You can either cook on a very low burner on the stove top or in the oven at about 225 degrees; in either case the pot should be simmering very gently.  If it boils hard, the meat will be dry.  Cooking time will vary depending on the quality and shape of the roast but figure about 3 hours.

6) While the meat is cooking, peel and glaze the onions, here is the recipe for that.

7) Remove the butt from the chard and wash well.  Trim the chard stems and leaves, removing any brown or damaged spots.  Remove the stem from the leaves, slice the stems into bite sized pieces.  Roughly chop the leaves.

7) After the roast has cooked about 2 hours, gently lift the meat out to a plate and strain the cooking vegetable and spices out of the sauce. Return the meat and sauce to the pan. Add the chard stems, mix well and continue the cooking. Thirty minutes before serving the beef, add the chopped chard leaves, stir well and continue cooking. 

8) Add the pearl onions “a brun” 3-4 minutes before serving to heat through.  Check the sauce and correct as needed with salt and pepper.  Just before serving, add a knob of cold butter to the pan and continue stirring off the heat until the butter is completely incorporated.  Serve the beef from the pot right at the table.  Buttered noodles or boiled white rice would be great with this dish or just offer big chunks of crusty bread.


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