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.

Peanut, sweet potato, and chicken stew

Peanut, sweet potato, and chicken stew


This is a wonderful, thick, flavorful stew. I think roasted corn might be good in this. You can make it hot and spicy, or add other veggies. I got the idea for this stew from a similar recipe from West Africa. Senegal and Gambia are known for peanut stews. This could be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken with baked or stir fried tofu, using vegetable broth instead of chicken stock. Kale or spinach might be good also.



5-6 boneless chicken thighs
8 cups of chicken stock
1 can of fire roasted, diced tomatoes (or fresh roasted grape tomatoes)
1/4 – 1 tsp ground red pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsps of olive oil
1/2 – 1 tsp. sriracha sauce (or more if you want it spicy)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 large Sweet Onion, sliced
1 Cup creamy peanut butter (I use a natural peanut butter called Naturally More)
1/2 Cup roasted unsalted peanuts or pumpkin seeds (optional)



Heat the chicken stock to a slow boil, add salt and pepper and cook the chicken thighs for about 15-20 minutes, until done. Remove from the broth and cool. Cut up the chicken or shred with 2 forks. Set aside in the fridge.

Add the cubed sweet potato to the stock and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onion until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the red pepper and stir until tender.

Add the tomatoes and the onion mixture to the sweet potato broth. Add in the peanut butter and stir.

Using a Cuisinart or hand held blender blend the stock with the vegetables until smooth.

Add the pepper and hot sauce to taste.

Add in the chicken. At this point you can keep this warm

Garnish with peanuts or pumpkin seeds