Back in March I posted my recipe for Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew, a dish I discovered in Bon Appetit about 34 years ago, and which has been a winter staple ever since, Stop reading now if you don’t like mushrooms – this dish has a full pound of meaty crimini and/or portabellos.
This is the comfort food I chose to make today, Christmas eve, while everyone else was forking over their week’s salary for humungous standing rib roasts and whole tenderloins. I saw one tenderloin the size of a whale calf at the little shop where I stopped for a Cabernet for this dish – you’d think that after paying $204 for a cut of meat, the customer would have been given something other than those puny plastic bags barely big enough to hold a bag of potato chips. It should have been gift-wrapped. Whole Foods would have done that, but then the price would have been closer to $300.
I saw another customer at Stop & Shop measuring his standing rib roast with a tape measure while the butcher held it in place for him. Apparently he was following a recipe for a specific dimension. If I were paying over $100 for a cut of meat, I’d measure it too.
But, as a Jew who spends Christmas day at the movies either preceded or followed by an Asian meal, I was not about to splurge on either a tenderloin roast or any of the other fantastical cuts of meat one rarely sees other than at this time of year. Racks of lamb, crown roasts of pork, duck, veal roasts, goose, D’Artagnan Duck Bacon. No, my aim was to procure a nice 3.5-4lb whole chuck roast to cut to my specifications (large chunks, not cat-food sized) , a pound of mushrooms, and the whole grain mustard I’d run out of for my comfort dish for the two of us. There will be leftovers for sure – the dish serves 6-8. For added specialness, I also picked up a dozen cooked enormous shrimp for a shrimp cocktail first course.
Further thriftiness came into play when I decided against the $4.99 chunk of salt pork this dish usually requires and opted instead to use 6 ounces of the Trader Joe’s bacon I had at home. The stew is simmering now for 2-1/2 hours as I sip the Cabernet I used, and there’s ample down time before the mushrooms and carrots need to be added. The house smells like company’s coming, but that’s not to be. A Christmas Eve dinner alone with my honey and our menagerie of miniature schnauzers and kitties. I’m loving it.
Here’s the link to the dish (also posted on March 5) as it’s simmering beautifully (cover removed just for photo):
DIJON AND COGNAC BEEF STEW
And done! With buttered egg noodles and sauteed broccoli.