RECIPE: Old-fashioned Dutch oven is heart of sentimental stew

A Dutch oven transforms humble ingredients into magical meals, like this Root Vegetable Bourguignon. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
A Dutch oven transforms humble ingredients into magical meals, like this Root Vegetable Bourguignon. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

The stained enamel on my Dutch oven tells the story of my people. It’s browned from caramelizing onions for French onion soup (Grandma’s 83rd birthday), a double batch of chicken stew that bubbled over (Halloween, 2016), and a thousand other celebrations, big and small.

The Dutch oven on the stovetop is a promise that dinner will be more than a rushed necessity. And as I watch my this-close-to-adult children find their independence, I reach for my Dutch oven even more. Simply being together is reason enough to cook a sentimental meal.

Take this Root Vegetable Bourguignon. You can make it from carefully curated produce and a delightful Burgundy, or throw it together with wilted crisper drawer veggies and leftover pinot.

The only ingredient you must use is cognac, which transforms the dish from vegetable stew into a complex, deeply flavorful dining event. Also, you get to light the cognac fumes with a match, which will literally brighten your day. (But first, it’s vitally important to turn off the overhead fan, lest it suck the flames into your range hood and you create an entirely different kind of evening. This I know.)

If you have helpers for the chopping, this recipe is quick enough for a weeknight supper. But it’s best served in a crowded kitchen on a lazy weekend, cooking up memories.

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Spend some time with your family over a meal like this Root Vegetable Bourguignon. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Spend some time with your family over a meal like this Root Vegetable Bourguignon. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Root Vegetable Bourguignon
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-by-3-inch pieces
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-by-3-inch pieces
  • 2 medium red beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 10 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1/2 cup Burgundy, pinot noir or other dry red wine
  • 3 cups lower-sodium mushroom broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • Heat canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots, parsnips, beets, yellow onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
  • Turn off the heat and overhead fan (if on). Add the cognac, stand back, and ignite the fumes. When the flames subside, return the burner to medium-high heat and add the wine, broth, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir, scraping up the burned bits from the bottom. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered until the vegetables are tender and the sauce thickens, 20-25 minutes. Stir in the pearl onions and simmer 5 minutes more. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Serve hot, over mashed potatoes, rice or cooked egg noodles. Serves 6.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 159 calories (percent of calories from fat, 19), 3 grams protein, 23 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 3 grams total fat (trace saturated), no cholesterol, 178 milligrams sodium.

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