Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew

In continuing my no-picture, not-really-food-writing-because-I-am-depressing phase, here’s a bit about a Dijon and Cognac beef stew I saw on Smitten Kitchen.

I used 4 strips of bacon, which probably isn’t 1/4 lb; oh well. I also didn’t dice it, as I didn’t want to have to deal with a dirty cutting board and knife and hands.

Instead of using three shallots, I subbed in an extra onion. During browning, I didn’t add additional butter, since there was plenty of bacon fat still in the pan. I sauteed the mushrooms in the same pan for more flavor, thinking that more fond would build in the pan.

I made Mom cut the beef for me, since she was the one who wanted me to use up the beef. My pan was big enough so that I could saute the meat in one batch.

I was afraid of the Cognac catching on fire during deglazing, so I pulled it off the heat. However, deglazing was taking a really long time (this may be due to the chopsticks I was using to scrape with; I later switched to a wooden paddle-like spatula), so I turned the flame to the lowest setting. It helped a lot, and luckily nothing caught on fire.

I added all the mustard in with the stock, as I thought uncooked coarse mustard would be too pungent.

After the beef had simmered for 75 minutes, the stew was really thick, so I added more beef stock to thin. I almost left out the carrots, but decided at last minute that they were necessary, and ran out to Trader Joe’s to get a package.

Wow. This Dijon and Cognac beef stew was good. There were so many levels of flavor and depth, and it was super satisfying, even though stew on a hot day isn’t the best idea. The meat wasn’t quite tender enough for me, but that can easily be fixed with a bit more simmering. I loved how rich the sauce was; it almost tasted like there was cream involved. The carrots are definitely a must.

This one took a while. I started at 11am and finished at around 3pm (I had work at 5pm, so I cooked dinner early). Granted, some of this time was just the stew simmering while I lounged about watching cooking shows, but I’d say that at least two hours were spent prepping ingredients, babying the onions and mushrooms while they sweated and searing the beef. That’s the only dealbreaker; I’ve adapted the recipe to reflect cooking the onions and mushrooms together, hopefully cutting down the active cooking time.

Flavor-wise, this Dijon and Cognac beef stew is a re-make. Time-wise, it’s not. Maybe on a cold winter’s day when you want to stay by the stove for hours (though I feel like I’d prioritize reading underneath a fluffy blanket with a mug of tea over cooking).

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/4 lb bacon
2 onions, diced
3/4 lb mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and quartered
2 lbs beef chuck, in 1-inch cubes
2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Cognac
2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup smooth Dijon mustard
4 T coarse Dijon mustard
4 carrots, peeled and cut into half-moons

  1. Place bacon in a large pot over low heat, and cook until fat is rendered. Remove solids and save for another use. Raise heat to medium-low and add onion and mushrooms. Cook until softened and browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Dust beef with flour and season with pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until well browned on all sides. Transfer to another bowl.
  3. Deglaze the empty pan with Cognac. Mix in the stock and mustards. Add the meat. Lower heat, cover partway and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 1/4 hours.
  4. Add carrots. Simmer for 40 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Stir in onions and mushrooms. Simmer 5 minutes. Serve hot with crusty bread,

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