Traditional Warming Winter Recipe: Alamode Beef

Traditional Warming Winter Recipe: Alamode Beef

If the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, a warming winter meal this January can be a real treat. 

In the depths of winter, it’s worth casting an eye backwards to recipes of yesteryear, and what better time to go back to than traditional naval recipes but with a modern twist to make them even tastier?

Here’s our first traditional warming winter recipe that you might like to take inspiration from on a cold winter’s day.

David McKnight, General Manager of HMS Trincomalee, shares with Home UK Magazine readers our first warming winter recipe, traditional Alamode Beef. The dish was regularly served up for the consumption of the officer class on ships like HMS Trincomalee

HMS Trincomalee, built in Bombay in 1817 of Malabar teak, is the oldest warship still afloat in the world today. 

Alamode Beef (Boeuf à la Mode)

Alamode Beef is the French variation of traditional pot roast. The recipe is distinct from a traditional American –style pot roast in that white wine rather than water is used. 

What sets it apart from an American-style pot roast is that it uses red or white wine (and sometimes tomato), while the original American pot roasts were made with just water.  

Here’s the recipe: 

Serves: 6. 


3 pounds shoulder of beef 

¼ pound bacon

½ teaspoon mace

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground thyme 

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup cider vinegar

½ cup flour

Salt and pepper

1 cup red wine

1 tablespoon brandy 

¾ cup water

12 small onions, peeled and scored with a deep X at the root end

½ pound mushrooms, quartered

Few sprigs of fresh thyme

Few sprigs of fresh savory 

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley 


  1. Cut the beef into six equal pieces
  2. Cut half the bacon into thin strips about 3 inches long. Mix together mace, nutmeg, cloves. Ground thyme and ½ teaspoon pepper. Dip each bacon strip into the vinegar then roll it the spice mixture. (Reserve any remaining vinegar for the sauce.) 
  3. With a larding needle, lard each piece of beef with several of the prepared strips of bacon, placing them about 1 inch apart.
  4. In a large stewpot, saute the remaining bacon until the fat is rendered. Remove and set aside.
  5. Season the flour with salt and pepper and dredge the beef. (Reserve any remaining flour for thickening.) Brown the beef in the hot bacon fat.
  6. Pour in the wine, brandy, water, and reserved vinegar and deglaze the pot. Add the onions, mushrooms, savory, fresh thyme, and bay leaf. Return the bacon to the pot (by this stage we have usually eaten some of the bacon, but we try bto save most of it for the sauce.) Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for about two hours or until the beef is very tender.
  8. Remove the beef and the vegetables and keep them warm. Discard the bay leaf.
  9. Work the butter and the reserved flour into a paste. Stir the paste into the sauce with a whisk, add the parsley and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to thicken, Slice the beef, arrange it on a platter with the vegetables around it, pour the sauce over it, and so send it away to table.

Source: Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which Is a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels Paperback – 4 Oct 2000 by  Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Lisa Grossman Thomas.