Dijon-Cognac Beef Stew
MUSIC PAIRING: Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour
If anyone has tips for making beef stew look attractive in photos, please hit me up.
Moving on. I, along with all of New York City, am massively confused by what season we’re supposed to be in. For a minute, it was Winter. Now, it’s Summer. Yet, my calendar says it’s December. I had to go out in the rain for a second yesterday and my hair frizzed like it’s the middle of August and we won’t even talk about how sweaty I got. What. Is. Happening.
By this time of year, my comfort food eating is usually in full swing and I’ve put on a few extra pounds that I like to call my Winter coat. You can normally find me tucked away with a whiskey cocktail in hand and a big bowl of something terrible for me. This holiday season? I feel like I should be drinking iced tea and eating a salad. I’ve had enough of this warm Winter weather and I’m fighting back. I’m pulling out the comfort food stops and nobody can get in my way.
Beef stew is one of those hearty, soul soothing dishes that I look forward to immediately when the weather turns cold. Add in a buttery biscuit to sop everything up with and I’m pretty much putty in your hands. While beef stew may not be a supermodel in looks, it is in flavor and sometimes appearances can just be deceiving. Personally, I don’t think beef stew in its original form ever needs to be messed with but then you go and read a recipe that incorporates things like dijon and cognac and all hell breaks loose.
This dish is tremendous. It is not for the mustard faint of heart, let me be clear, but it’s just delicious and even feels elegant. I would serve this for any occasion from a potluck down to a romantic dinner with your love. I think it would be killer scooped on top of mashed potatoes or buttery egg noodles or simply on its own, but I happened to serve it with the most delicious cornbread in history.
Here’s to hoping the weather gets its act together so we can wear comfy sweaters and feel good about that third helping of stew.
Why Sam Smith? Because his voice is as scrumptious as this stew.
Recipe by: Smitten Kitchen
- 1/4 pound salt pork, pancetta or bacon, diced
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter, as needed
- 2 pounds beef chuck, in 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup Cognac
- 2 cups unsalted beef stock
- 1/2 cup smooth Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons whole grain or coarse Dijon mustard
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into half-moon slices
- 1/2 pound mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and quartered
- 1/4 cup red wine
- Place salt pork in a Dutch oven or a large heavy kettle over low heat, and cook until fat is rendered (I used a cast iron skillet). Remove solid pieces with a slotted spoon, and save for another use, like your salad, vegetables or, uh, snacking. Raise heat to medium-low, and add onion and shallots. Cook until softened but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl.
- If necessary, add 2 tablespoons butter to the pan to augment fat. Dust beef cubes with flour, and season lightly with salt and more generously with pepper. Shake off excess flour and place half the cubes in the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until well browned, almost crusty, on all sides, then transfer to a bowl with onions. Repeat with remaining beef.
- Add Cognac to the empty pan, and cook, stirring, until the bottom is deglazed and any crusted-on bits come loose. Add stock, smooth Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon coarse mustard. Whisk to blend, then return meat and onion mixture to pan. Lower heat, cover pan partway, and simmer gently until meat is very tender, about 1 1/4 hours.
- Add carrots, and continue simmering for 40 minutes, or until slices are tender. As they cook, heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté mushrooms until browned and tender. Stir mushrooms into stew along with remaining mustard and red wine.
- Simmer 5 minutes, then taste, and adjust seasoning.
- I found that you need to careful with salt here. I've made this a few times and the first time, I underestimated the power of the salt already present in the mustard. So, do a little more 'taste as you go' here for seasoning and you'll be all set.