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Heidi Noble
December 11, 2020 | Recipes | Heidi Noble

Juniper Braised Beef with Armagnac and Prune Plums

This recipe was created by our winemaker, Heidi Noble, while she was making the Chic Fille Merlot. The Chic Fille series is a side project where Heidi can creatively work with other varieties and styles outside of the core JoieFarm portfolio focus of aromatic Germanic and Burgundian varieties.

Chic Fille Merlot is a fresh, juicy example of what Merlot can be when it is not over-extracted in style. Heidi employed a partial lot of semi-carbonic, ambient cask-fermented Merlot that produced the juicy, fruit-forward splash of freshness she intended. The single vineyard is located in Peachland on a high bench overlooking Lake Okanagan, originally planted in the 1990s by the iconic Hainle family and now run by the Joie viticulture team. Its altitude and southern exposure really allowed for a long phenolic development without gaining to much alcohol. At a moderate 11% this wine is the perfect choice to incorporate into a meal where many wines are going to be enjoyed or afternoon of holiday imbibing that turns into a longer session of wines enjoyed with dinner!  

This holiday season in particular, as we are unable to gather in larger groups with larger feasts being prepared, this wine and this recipe are a perfect match made for a smaller  “covid-Christmas” dinner or New Years celebration.

This wine is a small-lot production with 120 cases produced. It is only available to our wine club members but is being offered to the general public for this short holiday window only.

Holiday Beef Stew with Prune Plums and Juniper

This is a lively and seasonally flavoured winter beef stew I imagined in the winery while making the Chic Fille Merlot during the 2019 vintage. It incorporates winter and holiday flavours like juniper, rosemary and clove to compliment the tangy sweetness of the prune plums and the Merlot. I have included a deep umami blast of miso and anchovy filet to deepen the flavours of both the stew and the wine. The juniper, tangerine and rosemary gremolata to finish really gives this stew deep winter aromatic flair as it hits the table.

I recommend serving this stew accompanied by a crusty loaf of bread, good butter and a watercress salad or green bean salad with a shallot and Dijon dressing. Spätzle, a creamy potato gratin or gnocchi would be excellent accompaniments to this stew as well. 

For the stew:

  • 2 lbs. Beef stew meat (chuck preferably)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 strips of bacon, cut into lardon
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 anchovy filet
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1 Tbsp tomato purée
  • ¼ cup rehydrated dried prune plums (liquid reserved) or 2 Tbsp Plum jam or compote
  • ¼ cup brandy or amaro
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 6 juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper

For the gremolata:

  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 spring fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 5 juniper berries, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns, cracked
  • 4 dried prunes or prune plums, roughly chopped
  • Zest of one tangerine or orange
  • ½ tsp Maldon salt


  1. Pre-heat oven to 275 F.
  2. Place a Dutch oven or casserole that can be covered and is appropriate size for oven braising over medium-high heat, and add oil. Season beef with salt and pepper. Brown meat well on all sides until golden and caramelized, for 10 minutes; remove from pot with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  3. In same pot over medium-high heat, render the bacon lardon until golden.
  4. Sauté onion and tomato paste with a large pinch of salt and some pepper. When they soften, about 5 minutes, sprinkle in the sugar, stir in the garlic, miso paste, anchovy filet (it will dissolve into umami goodness) paprika, juniper berries, clove, rosemary, and bay leaf. Return meat to pan and add the wine to deglaze the pan with first the brandy and then the wine, rubbing the caramelized bits off of the bottom of the pan while the alcohol evaporates. Season with a pinch of  salt and pepper again. Add in the prunes and their liquid or the plum jam
  5. Add the warmed stock to cover the meat (add more stock or water if necessary); bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes on the stovetop. Transfer to the oven and braise for 5 -3 hours slowly, or until the meat is super tender.  Season with the sherry vinegar and more salt and pepper to taste before serving.

The stew can be made in advance to this point; let sit for a few hours, or cover and refrigerate for up to a day before reheating and proceeding. Reheat before serving and if necessary, raise heat so sauce reduces and thickens and becomes glossy.
While reheating, make the gremolata.


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