Saturday, September 17, 2016

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew

We've already had a few "fallish" days this September. It's that time of year when evening entrees migrate from salads to stews. I was delighted when I stumbled upon this stew recipe in the New York Times. As a lover of both mustard and cognac, I couldn't wait to try it....and I did just that last Thursday night.

I've made a few changes to the recipe. First was the cooking methodology. This was a meal for company, so I didn't want to be cooking while my guests were here. So I made the stew at noon and then cooked it in the oven the rest of the day at 210º. No muss. No fuss. And all I had to do at dinner time was pull the Dutch oven out and serve.

A couple of comments on ingredients. While the recipe calls for Pommery Mustard (which is all but impossible to find in stores), in a pinch you can substitute Whole Grain Mustard. But if you have the time, I would really encourage you to go to and order a jar.  Pommery mustard has been made in Meaux, France since 1632. This mustard is very thick and the whole grain mustard seeds give it a gritty texture. It is an incredible addition to your pantry and puts this dish over the top.

And while Gravy Master was not part of the original recipe, I would never consider making a stew without a little help from Gravy Master. It gives the stew an intense, rich color and incredible depth on the tongue. It is such a fantastic product that I use it in virtually all of my stews, gravies and sauces. However, I find the 2-ounce jars annoyingly small, so I go on and buy the foodservice sizes, which come in both quart and gallon size.

The third stool of the meal is warm, crusty bread. It is considered a mortal sin if you make a stew and have not coupled it with a baguette or two of French bread. My recommendation is Costco, where the loaves are always warm and you can score two for just $4.99. And do not forget to dip!!! This adaptation of Regina Scrambling's recipe serves four to six people.

4 slices of bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 shallots, chopped
2 to 4 tablespoons butter, as needed
2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and fresh ground pepper
2 to 4 tablespoons butter, as needed
1/2 cup Cognac
2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons Pommery mustard
1 tablespoon Gravy Master
4 large carrots, sliced
1/2 pound mushrooms
1/4 cup red wine


    1. Pre-heat oven to 210º.
    2. Place bacon in a Dutch oven over low heat and cook until fat is rendered. Remove solid pieces with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Raise heat and add onion and shallots. Cook until softened but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl.
    3. If necessary, add 2 tablespoons butter to the pan to augment fat. Add mushrooms to pan and sauté until browned and tender. Use slotted spoon to transfer to the bowl with the onions and shallots.
    4. If necessary, add 2 tablespoons butter to the pan to augment fat. Dust beef cubes with flour and season with salt and 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.
    5. Add Cognac to the empty pan and cook, stirring, until the bottom is deglazed and the crust comes loose. Add stock, Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of Pommery mustard. Whisk to blend, then return bacon, meat, onion and mushroom mixture to pan. Add carrots. Stir to blend all ingredients. Cover dutch oven with aluminum foil and then place lid over foil. Slide pan into oven and cook for 5 hours.
    6. Remove pan from oven. Add 3 tablespoons of Pommery mustard and the red wine. Stir, taste and then adjust seasonings and serve.  

    Wine pairing: A big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon.

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