Cognac and Beef Stew with Polenta

Cognac and Beef Stew with Polenta

I love stew! This is fall comfort food, tangy and flavorful. It can be served over noodles or Polenta. I served leftovers over some couscous. I adapted this recipe from a Smitten Kitchen recipe. The Pancetta is used to put a little flavor and fat into the dish and not used in the actual dish but it is yummy in Eggs, or salads.


Serves 4 to 6

  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter, as needed
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, in 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Cognac or Brandy
  • 3 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1/2 cup smooth Dijon mustard
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into half-moon slices
  • 1 pound mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and quartered
  • 1/2 cup red wine


Place pancetta 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. 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.

If necessary, add 2 tablespoons butter to the pan to augment fat. 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. Cook over medium-high heat until well browned, almost crusty, on all sides, then transfer to a bowl with onions. Repeat with remaining beef.

Add Cognac to the empty pan, and cook, stirring, until the bottom is deglazed and any crusted-on bits come loose. Add stock, smooth Dijon 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.

Add carrots, and continue simmering for 40 minutes, or until slices are tender. As they cook, heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté mushrooms until browned and tender. Stir mushrooms into stew along with remaining mustard and red wine. Simmer 5 minutes, then taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve hot over polenta or noodles.


Pasta al Carne di Sugo

beefsugo I LOVE this meal. Perfect for a cold winter night and easy to make. This is based on a recipe from Cafe Mingo, a restaurant in Portland Oregon.


Serves 6-8 people 

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pound boneless chuck roast
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced thin
  • 1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 28 oz can diced, fire roasted tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 pound pasta, homemade preferred
  • Parmesan rinds



  1. Heat 2 Tb oil in large ovenproof pot (I used a La Creuset) over medium heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Brown well so deep brown crust is on the exterior of meat. Remove meat and set aside.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil to pot and melt. Add onion and cook until soft, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes until golden brown.
  3. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot. Add wine, tomatoes with juice, and beef broth. Cover and place in 400 degree oven. Check after 1-1/2 hours. You may need to add more liquid. You can use wine or broth.
  4. Add parmesan rinds.
  5. Braise beef until tender, about 3 hours total. Using 2 forks, shred beef. Return beef to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can keep warm in a crock pot at this point.
  6. Make pasta (or use store bought) and cook according to directions.
  7. Divide pasta among 6 shallow bowls, spoon meat sauce over, and serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Do ahead: Can be made 3 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving.