Beef Stew with Brandy & Dijon is the dish I WISH I had made for Christmas dinner.
Yes, this beef stew is better than prime rib.
In fact, it blows prime rib away.
I’m a big fan of stews and braises and slow cooked foods. It’s usually pretty simple to get some good ingredients together in a pot and let them cook away on their own. Not too fussy. Not too demanding.
This recipe, however, takes beef stew to a whole new level…tender chunks of meat, delicious vegetables, and savory sauce that is comforting but also tasty and fancy enough to serve to any dinner party or holiday gathering.
Here’s what you need: (feline sous chefs optional)
Beef Roast, Bacon, Onion, Shallots, Carrots, Mushrooms, Butter, Flour, Dijon Mustard, Whole Grain Mustard, Red Wine, Brandy, Beef Broth, Salt & Pepper
Also, you will want to make something like mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles to serve with the stew. You’ll need something to catch all that good sauce.
This recipe has a lot of ingredients and a few steps, but once it’s all in the pot, you are good to go about your life only coming back occasionally to stir and marvel at how wonderful your kitchen smells.
Cut ¼ pound (about 4-5 strips) of bacon into small pieces.
Place them in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat and cook slowly until the fat renders out of the meat and the bacon becomes crispy.
While the bacon cooks, finely chop 1 large onion and 3 shallots.
When the bacon is crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan and set aside.
Add the chopped onions and shallots to the bacon grease in the pan and cook over medium heat until softened and golden but not browned, about 10 minutes.
You will need 2½ pounds of beef. Rather than using pre-cut, store bought stew meat (which is usually not a very nice cut of meat for flavor or tenderness), I look for a chuck or top round roast and cut it into cubes myself.
Place the cubes of meat in a bowl and add 2 Tablespoons of flour. Gluten Free flour works fine.
Get in there with clean hands and toss the meat so that it is very lightly coated on all sides.
Use your slotted spoon to remove your now golden onions to a large bowl.
Add 2 Tablespoons of butter to the pan.
Working in 2 small batches, transfer half of the meat to the pan shaking off any excess flour.
Brown the meat in the butter until it is golden and slightly crusty on all sides. The meat will not be cooked through.
When one batch of meat is done, transfer it to the bowl of onions. Add up to 2 more Tablespoons of butter if needed and cook the remainder of the beef the same way.
Once all the beef has been browned and is resting in the bowl with the onions, add ½ cup of brandy (or cognac) to the pan. Stir to deglaze or dislodge any tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add 2 cups of beef broth, ½ cup of Dijon mustard,
and 1 Tablespoon of whole grain mustard. Whisk or stir to blend.
Notice that the residual flour from browning the meat will already start to thicken the sauce.
Return the beef and the onions to the pot.
Add the bacon to the pot too.
Can you believe that the original recipe said to discard the bacon? WHAT??? That’s just wrong.
Stir the meat and onions into the sauce, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook so the stew is simmering gently for 1½ hours.
Stop by occasionally to give it a stir and be sure it is still simmering along.
While the stew cooks, peel 4-5 carrots and chop them into rounds or half rounds if the carrots are large. You’ll want about 2 cups of carrots total.
While you’re chopping, clean ½ pound of white, button mushrooms and cut them into halves or quarters if they are large.
I also like to remove the stems from the mushrooms since they don’t offer much in the way of tenderness but that’s up to you.
After the 90 minutes of cooking time, you’ll see that the stew has reduced and thickened nicely. The meat should be quite tender.
Add the carrots and cook for 30 more minutes.
For maximum flavor, we will cook the mushrooms separately (a la Julia Child) so that they don’t dissolve to nothing in the long, slow cooking of the stew.
Heat 2 Tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and brown them quickly, tossing so they get golden on all sides.
Julia’s method was the game changer of mushroom cooking for me. If you cook mushrooms at a lower heat, they release all this liquid and get soggy and dull. A higher heat gives them a nice sear and golden color.
Have faith, turn up the mushrooms and cook them quickly.
When the carrots are tender, add the mushrooms to the pot. Pour in ¼ cup of nice dry, red wine. As always, pick something you would drink…cabernet, merlot, shiraz are all good options.
Taste and season the stew with salt & pepper.
Add 3 more Tablespoons of whole grain mustard and stir to combine. Cook the stew for a final 5 minutes so all the flavors can meld together.
I mentioned that you will want to think about something to go with this awesome stew. You’ll need something starchy like noodles, rice, or potatoes as a receptacle for all that wonderful sauce.
While the stew was cooking, I cooked a couple of pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes and ran them through my Potato Ricer.
I should have put the potato ricer on my list of Gifts for the Cook this year. It’s absolutely one of my favorite new gadgets.
I usually don’t go for things that only have one use or purpose, but really good, creamy mashed potatoes with very little work makes this a MUST HAVE gadget for me.
A potato ricer works and looks like a giant garlic press. Simply put the hot cooked potatoes in the container of the ricer and squeeze the handles to press them through the metal plates on the bottom.
Out come bits of potato so light and fluffy that they resemble tiny grains of rice. Thus the name…Potato Ricer.
Once you’ve mashed/riced all your potatoes into a bowl, add warm milk, cream, butter or whatever you like to make them creamy.
No need for the big mixer mess. No need for the lumps of hand mashing. The ricer is the way to go.
If I were a millionaire blogger, I’d send everyone a ricer. I know you would hope for a new car Oprah-style, but I feel very fervently about the ricer. Baby steps.
Serve the stew with a nice dollop of creamy mashed potatoes and garnish with a little chopped parsley if you’re feeling festive.
Add a green veg like some sautéed green beans and get ready to have the meal of the year.
Honestly, we sat there oohing and ahhing through the whole dinner.
No need to worry about cleaning your plate with this one!
Prime Rib Schmime Rib…next time I’m making Beef Stew with Brandy & Dijon!
My apologies to our neighbors who got the prime rib rather than this awesome stew. I owe you a dinner do over!
Here’s the recipe: Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook