A warming slow-cooked stew cooked Alsace style, baeckeoffe was a tasty solution to practical constraints. Jean-Georges Vongerichten shares his favourite recipe for this dish from the region he grew up in.

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In strictly religious Jewish households, cooking isn’t permitted on the Sabbath. In order to conform to these rules, many traditional families in Alsace used to prepare a stew (known as cholent or hamin) on a Friday, and ask the local baker to keep it warm for them until Saturday lunchtime.

In centuries past, the strict Lutheran protestants of Alsace – also restricted by religious rules – realised the benefits of their Jewish neighbours’ cooking methods when it came to their own famous stew, baeckeoffe (which means ‘bake oven’ in the Alsatian dialect).

Caroline Claude-Bronner is a historian and tourist guide from the region. “The mistresses of the households would first marinate meats and a bouquet garni in Alsatian wine overnight,” she explains on her website “Then on the Sunday morning, before leaving for worship, they would prepare their baeckeoffe by placing the marinated meats, potatoes and vegetables in a traditional Soufflenheim clay cooking pot. The children of the family were charged with dropping the dish off at the baker’s so that he could cook it in his oven. This could take up to three hours since religious ceremonies were longer than they are now.”

Inevitably, there’s an alternative reading of baeckeoffe’s origns. According to Larousse Gastronomique, the stew was usually left with the village baker on Mondays “when the housewife was too busy to cook” because she was doing the laundry.

For more information visit cheminsbioenalsace.fr.

Recipe card

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Baeckeoffe

This traditional slow-cooked stew is great as you can prepare it in advance and leave it to cook. Try substituting beef or pork for the lamb in the dish.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Course: Main Course, Main
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Delicious French main course, Traditional French Recipe, How to make a traditional French Baeckeoffe, Baeckeoffe recipe
Servings: 4 People
Author: Jean-Georges Vongerichten


  • 1 kg 2lb 3oz non-starchy white potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 leek
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • 3 glasses Riesling wine
  • 1 lamb shank
  • 450 g 1lb lamb shoulder meat
  • 2 slices tomato


  • Peel the potatoes and slice them about 2mm thick. Keep in water.
  • Peel the carrot and onion, trim and wash the leek. Chop roughly and then pulse in a food processor until finely chopped and add the parsley.
  • Trim the meat of fat and debone. Cut it into 5cm (2in) cubes. Take a 15-20cm- (6–8in) deep baeckeoffe terrine or other oven-proof baking dish and place a layer of the strained potatoes on the bottom. Next, add a layer of the vegetable mix, then a layer of meat. Repeat and finish with the potatoes, seasoning each layer. Top with two tomato slices.
  • Pour wine over to cover.
  • Bake at 150°C (300ºF/Gas Mark 2) for two hours.

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