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February 2, 2010

Dijon mustard (Recipe: beef, ale and onion stew)

Beef, ale and onion stew

When I moved into my very own apartment for the first time, back in the 1970s, I didn't know anything about cooking, so I filled my pantry with the things my mother had kept in her pantry.

Unfortunately, she didn't know much about cooking, either.

So it was years before I discovered some ingredients I now couldn't live without, like olive oil, cumin, coconut milk and Dijon mustard.

Mustard-making in the Dijon region of France dates to the 13th century. Grey Poupon mustard came on the market in 1777, when a Mr. Grey and a Mr. Poupon (really) formed a partnership. Grey had developed the recipe; Poupon had the money to bring it to market.

Dijon mustard

Though the original Grey Poupon store still stands in downtown Dijon, most of the world's Dijon (or Dijon-style) mustard is produced elsewhere, from seeds grown in Canada. The Grey Poupon you find on every supermarket shelf is made today by Kraft Food, but in medieval times, mustard was made by a mustardarius -- someone whose sole responsibility was to oversee the growing and preparation of mustard.

The mustardarius would soak brown mustard seeds in water to activate the enzyme myrosinase. When the desired heat level was achieved, he would add an acidic liquid, usually wine or vinegar (for stronger mustards) or verjuice (a milder acid, which resulted in what we now call Dijon mustard), and a bit of salt. The mustardarius had a lot of control over the taste and strength of the final product.

Most varieties of Dijon mustard, including my favorite Maille, have little or no carbs or fat, and no cholesterol, but plenty of taste. You can use your own favorite Dijon in marinades, sauces, salad dressings, and dishes like maple dijon glazed bacon, Napa cabbage slaw with carrots and fennel-Dijon dressing, Dijon and thyme roasted chicken drumsticks, broiled salmon glazed with Dijon and rice vinegar, prosciutto Dijon Gruyere puffs and roasted vegetable magic.

Now that we have a president who enjoys Dijon on his burgers, I feel it's my duty to have his favorite mustard on hand, in case he stops by.

Mr. President, please come to visit. There's plenty of Dijon mustard in The Perfect Pantry.

Beef, ale and onion stew

Beef, ale and onion stew (slow cooker and stovetop)

The other day my friend Lucia made a beef and beer stew that sounded divine, so when I found a single bottle of Guinness stout in my pantry, I knew just what to do with it. Like all stews, this one improves on the second day. By the third day, however, it will probably be gone. It's that good. Make it in a slow cooker, or in a Dutch oven on top of the stove. Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled, quartered
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red wine
1 12-oz bottle of dark ale (I used Guinness stout)
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaf
1 tsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
1/2 lb pearl onions, peeled (I use frozen pearl onions, defrosted)
14 oz large button or cremini mushrooms

Directions

Dry the beef with a paper towel, and set aside. Place flour in a large bowl.

Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over low-medium heat. Dredge a third of the beef cubes in the flour, shaking off the excess, and add to the pan (add as much as will fit without crowding). Brown the meat on all sides, and place in a 4-quart slow cooker or Dutch oven. Dredge and brown the remaining meat in batches, and add to the cooker.

Add the quartered onion, mustard, wine, ale, thyme, tomato paste, bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot. Set the slow cooker to LOW for 6 hours, or cook in the Dutch oven over low heat, covered, for 2-1/2 hours.

At the end of that cooking time, add the pearl onions.

Trim the stems and cut the mushrooms into quarters. In a nonstick frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add the mushrooms and cook over low-medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the mushrooms begin to give off their liquid and turn light brown. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Stir the mushrooms into the stew.

Cook for a total of 7-1/2 hours in the slow cooker, or 3-1/4 hours on the stove top.

Serve over buttery egg noodles or rice. 

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Beef stew
Lamb stew
Pumpkin stew
Football season chili
Beer marinade

Comments

A mustardarius. Had no idea such a profession ever existed. As for the stew & the Dijon, thumbs up on both counts. I suppose now is as good as time as any to admit to the amount of mustard in my pantry (or fridge) on any given day: spicy brown, Dijon, yellow, German-style, mixed with horseradish (we're a mustard loving house) :)

what a great morsel of culinary history!

I'll have to give Maille another try... I recall not liking it as much as Grey Poupon, but given that GP is made by Kraft, and Maille is your favorite.... I think it worth a second look.

Maille is so so so good. That and the Pommery is the only mustard allowed in the house, although I do admit that a hot dog with colemans english once in a while is a treat too :)

I'm going to give this dish a whirl this week. Perfect weather for a stew

thanks

What a rich and tasty looking stew. Great information on Dijon! Thanks so much for including a link to my recipe.

Even if I am not the president I hope you would have some of this heartwarming stew in the freezer if I stopped by.

We love having a variety of flavored mustards, especially dill mustard. So we order ours from the Mustard Museum. They have hundreds of varieties. The link by my name is to the page in my blog about visiting the place. Although a lovely Dijon is nothing to sneeze at, horse radish/bleu cheese mustard is darned good. And those thick brown honey mustards from Canada. And the balsamic/garlic mustard we just had on pulled pork last night ...

Very interesting post about Dijon. The stew looks delicous.

I read somewhere that mustard is less shelf-stable than we might think, so that it pays to see if you can decipher the born-on date because it will be fresher, hotter. Do you know more about this?

My pantry is always stocked with mustard. My son is a picky eater. Sometimes the only way I can get him to eat something is to let him drown it in mustard!

I see Heidi beat me to it on mentioning the Mustard Museum in Wisconsin. Amazing place to visit and you can taste everything! I've always remembered their number: 1-800-get-must. I wonder how Guinness would go with pork?

Sandie, my refrigerator door has at least half a dozen jars of mustard, too. I'm okay with that.

Julia, I think you would have made a great mustardarius!

Milton, it is perfect stew weather. I've been having so much fun with my under-$20 crockpot; maybe you'll think about getting one?!

Cookin Canuck, you're quite welcome. I link to recipes on other blogs in every one of my posts.

Val, some day soon the US will elect a woman to be president. I'm certain of it. And my pantry is ready!

Heidi, the Mustard Museum has long been on the list of places in the US that I want to visit. Thanks for reminding us about it.

Food Hunter, thanks very much.

Alanna, I looked on the jars in my fridge and can't figure out the born-on date, just the sell-by or best-by date. I do know that mustard weakens over time, though it usually happens very slowly.

Janel, lucky your picky eater loves mustard!

Lucia, great phone number for the museum. I really have to go there. I don't drink Guinness and don't eat pork, so that's one thing they have in common and probably means they go well together. Shall we experiment?

Can you imagine having a job of being responsible for the growing of and preparation of mustard? I love that story!

And if the president does come for dinner, would you please invite me too? We can make it a pot luck. ;-)

I'm thinking some combination of Guinness, pork and prunes. Seriously.

An hour from Toronto is the city of Hamilton...huge mustard plant and a museum!

I bet they don't have any delicious stew like this one. I must have at least 5 different varieties of mustard at the moment.

That stew is so inviting - my favourite stew characters are all here!

8 kinds of mustard at last count in my fridge - it is a problem for me.
I am a "mustard-survivalist" at work - mix 1 condiment pack of dijon mustard and 1 pack of mayo - thin with water to desired thickness and drizzle on salad.

P.S. as a kind a favorite snack was French's yellow spread thinly on saltines!

Guinness and beef are best friends. I also love Guinness but it seems every time I buy it I only get to enjoy it when I am eating it.

I live on mustard and have a large amount on hand for any one human being (not as bad as my chili pepper addiction but a close second).

Awesome job!

Here is another Maille fan and I also ate mustard on saltines as an after-school snack - thought I was the only one that did that! And potato chips dipped in spicy brown mustard is good too! Thanks for the quick fix salad dressing tip, Carol!

I'm quite sure I would love this, although I've never made any kind of stew with beer. It certainly looks delicious, great photo! I'll never forget the time none of the nieces and nephews would eat the ham sandwiches I made at the Denny family campout, because I used Dijon mustard. I just could not wrap my mind around it!

I bet this has a nice complexity and layering of flavors...so yummy looking.

Toni, if the president comes for dinner, you'll definitely be on the guest list. (Pot luck with food bloggers, Mr. President; doesn't that sound like fun?)

Lucia, you'll have to try it and let me know how it comes out. The prunes would melt into the sauce, which could be delicious.

Peter, I didn't know there is another mustard museum (other than the one in Wisconsin). Thanks for the info.

Natashya, I confess that I'm not fond of cooked carrots, so I made a stew without them!

Carol, not sure I have quite that much mustard, but I have a lot. And Dijon is always one of the jars in the fridge.

Jeff, I also have a bit of a chile pepper addiction. I have far more hot sauce than mustard, so you can imagine how many varieties of hot sauce I have in the pantry!

Teresa, now that you and Carol have both mentioned it, I might just have to try mustard on crackers.

Kalyn, would they not eat the sandwiches because Dijon has wine in it? Or because it seemed foreign? They were surely missing out!

Noble Pig, the stew definitely improves with age and the flavor becomes more complex. The mustard is a great touch.

I usually make beef stew with red wine, but I love it with ale. I think I may have to make another one after seeing yours, Lydia. Mmmm....

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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