Sunday, March 9, 2014

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew

It's been a while since I even clicked through to read Smitten Kitchen's recipes. I don't quite know when I transitioned from primarily online recipes from bloggers I trust to almost exclusively relying on my (ever growing) cookbook collection. I prefer the cookbooks because I have a clear idea what to expect and especially for regional food, the background information can be extraordinarily helpful. However, I couldn't resist the pull of a beef stew that claimed to be the solution to bland beef stews. This post also happened to coincide with a recent conversation with my husband about how I generally don't like stews that much, so it seemed like the internet was indeed telling me how to solve that problem. I was cautious about making this dish given that mustard has never been my favorite condiment, but it exceeded my expectations and I'd be happy to eat it again.

One year ago: Stir-fried Pork with Green Peppers
Two years ago: Sesame-Crusted Roast Chicken in Tahini and Caper Sauce
Three years ago: Cornbread
Four years ago: Scrambled Eggs with Broccoli Pesto

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew (from Smitten Kitchen; originally The NYT)

1/4 pound salt pork, pancetta or bacon, diced (or 2 tbsp bacon grease)
1 large onion, finely diced or pearl onion
3 shallots, chopped
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 or duck stock
1/2 cup smooth Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons coarse Dijon or Pommery mustard
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into half-moon slices
2 tbsp butter
3/4 pound mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and quartered
1/4 cup red wine

1. Place salt pork in a Dutch oven or a large heavy kettle over low heat, and cook until fat is rendered. Remove solid pieces with a slotted spoon, and save for another use.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Cook beef in batches 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 any crusted-on bits come loose.
6. 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 to 2 hours.
7. Add carrots, and continue simmering for 40 minutes, or until slices are tender.
8. As they cook, heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté mushrooms until browned and tender.
9. Stir mushrooms into stew along with remaining mustard and red wine.
10. Simmer 5 minutes, then taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.

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