Classic beef stew gets a flavor boost with sauce infused with zesty dijon mustard and smooth cognac. A hearty meal meant to warm the bones on chilly days, tender Dijon Beef Stew is delish served over egg noodles or, for a change of pace, cheesy grits. Includes gluten-free instructions.
I have to say, one of the very best things about being a home cook is making a dinner like this on those blizzardy winter days. For me, there’s no other food that makes me feel so accomplished and people-nurturing as a really good soup or stew.
This one is for beef lovers who enjoy velvety, hearty-flavored sauces enrobing a chunky selection of vegetables. The sauce features a lip-smacking combination of zesty whole-grain mustard and rich Cognac. I also add beefy mushrooms for an extra boost of earthy, savoriness.
Dijon Beef Stew is not a weeknight-fast meal, but it’s the perfect recipe for a lazy, snowy Sunday, or when you’re hosting friends and family who need regenerating after an extra busy day.
How to Make Dijon Beef Stew
Quite happily, making beef stew is not difficult from a technique standpoint. It will take some time — almost all of it hands-off — and at the end of it, you’ll have a pot full tasty goodness.
Prepare and Brown the Meats
- You’ll need a nice, roomy Dutch oven or wide soup pot with a tight-fitting lid.
- Chop the beef chuck into nice one-inch chunks. My rule for everything that goes into a soup or a stew is that it fits comfortably on a spoon. You should never have to take a knife to such a dish, and this stew is no different. It’s even better if a beef chunk can snuggle next to a bit of potato on the spoon in a pool of sauce.
- Toss the beef chunks in the seasonings and flour. During the later cooking stage, the flour will thicken the sauce to a lovely consistency.
- Gluten-free Beef Stew: for a gluten-free option, skip the flour here and following the thickening instructions later.
- Heat the oil over medium until there’s a gentle shimmer across the surface of the oil. Heads up: you might have to do the next step in batches.
- Add beef chunks to the pot in a quantity so that they’re in one layer with some space between them. Unless you have a ginormous pot, you’ll have to do this in at least two batches.
- Let the beef chunks brown on one side, then flip each chunk to brown the other side. Yes, there are actually six sides to a cube of beef, but the dish will move faster if you just take care of two sides. You can, of course, do all the sides; just add more time.
- Transfer the browned beef from the pot to a bowl, and repeat with the remaining batches. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes, total.
- While the beef is browning, chop the bacon slices into 1/2″ pieces. You can do this quickly by cutting down the center of the slice, and then doing a quick chop across the grain, as it were.
- There should be dark brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. This is a good thing – it’s called fond and is the super-flavorful remnants of the cooked beef. Don’t wipe out the pot or scrape them up yet. We’ll take care of that in a bit.
- If the pot is dry, add some oil, followed by all of the bacon. Cook on medium, until much of the fat has rendered, and the meat is starting to crisp up. Depending on the thickness of your bacon, this will take about 10 minutes.
Saute the Aromatics
- Add the chopped onions and shallots to the pot. Sweat about 5 minutes until soft, stirring frequently. Things should smell mighty delicious in the kitchen about now.
- Add the chopped mushrooms, give everything a good stir, and then cover with a lid. Let the mushrooms cook down and release their liquids, about 5 minutes.
- Lift the lid and see what’s going on inside. There should be visible liquids in the pot from the mushrooms. If not, re-cover the pot and continuing cooking for a few more minutes. If yes, use a flat spatula to scrape up the fond and stir into the mix.
- If the fond is stubbornly stuck, add a small splash of the Cognac to the pot. The alcohol will help release the fond (called deglazing).
Season the stew and simmer
And here’s the yummy sauce-making part:
- Add a glug of the Cognac to the pot and cook for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol. The onion/mushroom mixture will be tender and fragrant.
- Spoon in a nice heaping tablespoon of the dijon mustard. Return the beef to the pot, scraping in all of the juices that have accumulated in the bowl.
- If you’re making this stew gluten-free, set aside 2 tablespoons of the broth in a small bowl. If not, just skip to the next step.
- Add the broth, carrots, and potatoes, and stir everything well. Let settle and look at the surface: everything should be lightly covered by the broth, with corners and edges sticking out only slightly here and there. If the chunky ingredients are clearly visible above the broth, add more broth in small amounts.
- If you’re following the gluten-free route: add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the bowl with the 2 tablespoons of extra broth. Stir until dissolved, and then mix into the stew. Continue with the recipe.
- Increase heat to medium-high and bring the stew to a gentle boil. Then reduce to medium-low and let the stew settle into a gentle simmer. Cover tightly with the lid. Cook for one hour. Set your timer!
- Check the beef stew occasionally to make sure it’s neither roiling nor silent. Adjust heat down or up as necessary.
- At the end of the hour, give everything a stir, then set the lid slightly ajar so that steam escapes. Cook for another 30 minutes.
- When the beef stew is thick, tender and fragrant, add another heaping tablespoon of dijon, along with a nice glug of red wine. Let simmer for another 10 minutes, uncovered.
Serve with Cheese Grits, as pictured, or egg noodles or rice, and top with chopped fresh parsley as a garnish, if you’d like.
The stew can be made ahead and stashed in the fridge (after cooling) to serve later in the day — leftovers, if any, are awesome! Or cook up and freeze for a convenient, future meal.
Dijon Beef Stew
- 2 pounds beef chuck , trimmed and cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (optional, but delish)
- olive oil
- 3-4 slices bacon, chopped (3 if thick cut)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
- 1 pour Cognac or brandy
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard (or whole grain) (divided)
- 2-3 cups beef or mushroom broth
- 1 medium carrot, peeled, sliced thinly into half moons
- 1 fist-sized Yukon potato, peeled cut into 1/2" cubes
- red wine
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in a 4-5 quart Dutch oven or lidded pot until oil shimmers.
- While the oil heats, toss the beef cubes in the flour and add a pinch of salt, black pepper, and paprika (if using).
- Add beef to cover the bottom of the pot (you'll probably need to sear the beef in batches). Let one side brown and get slightly crispy, then flip and cook the other side. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining beef. This will take 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how many batches you need to do.
- If the pot is dry, add a quick pour of oil, followed by the bacon. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until much of the fat has rendered and the meaty portions are starting to crisp up (about 10 minutes).
- Add the onions and shallots. Sweat until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms to the pot, stir, and cover completely with the lid. Let the mushrooms cook down for 5 minutes.
- Stir the contents well, and check the bottom of the pot. The fond (the burnt bits stuck to the bottom) should release easily with the liquids that the mushrooms released. If not, use a bit of the brandy to deglaze the pot. Then, give a nice pour of brandy into the onion mixture (2 to three tablespoons). Let cook for a couple of minutes to burn off the alcohol.
- Return the beef and its juices to the pot, and spoon in one heaping tablespoon of mustard, along with 2 cups of the broth. Stir well. Add the carrots and potatoes and let everything settle.
- The broth should cover everything almost completely - add more if necessary. Bits and pieces of beef and potatoes might poke out of the broth here and there - that's okay. You don't want the stew drowning in broth, but you don't want it all to boil away either.
- Bring the stew to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce immediately to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pot tightly with the lid.
- Simmer for one hour. Check occasionally to ensure that the stew is neither roiling nor silent, just gently bubbling (adjust heat as necessary). Recover.
- After an hour, check the stew, and replace the lid ajar so that steam escapes the pot.
- Cook for another half-hour.
- When the beef is nice and tender, and the stew is thick and fragrant, add the remaining one tablespoon of mustard, plus a quick pour of red wine. Let simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Optional: if the stew finishes too liquidy, thicken, if desired, with a cornstarch slurry. Spoon one tablespoon of cornstarch into a small bowl Add two tablespoons of the stew liquid and whisk until smooth. Add to the stew, stirring thoroughly. Cook the soup for five minutes more and the broth will thicken nicely.
- Taste, and adjust with salt and/or black pepper.
- If you need to hold the stew for a bit, reduce heat to warm and leave the lid ajar.
- Serve over rice, egg noodles or grits.