Ina Garten grinning
The Fruity Liquor Ina Garten Uses To Boost Beef Stew

Cooking with alcohol can add extra depth of flavor and complexity to many dishes. For example, chef Ina Garten’s beef stew recipe includes a fruity French spirit called Cognac.

Cognac, a brandy with fragrant fruitiness and notes of spice, toasty oak, and vanilla, is made under strict requirements and is a protected French appellation d'origine contrôlée.

Cognac comes strictly from Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanc, or Colombard grapes from the geographically protected Cognac region. Per Garten, it gives her beef stew sauce "an extra edge."

In addition to making the deep, hearty flavors in Garten’s beef stew complex and refined, Cognac helps cut through the dish’s richness, bringing balance and contrast.

To make the stew, start with a little bit of Cognac and taste as you go. Garten deglazes her pan with just a quarter cup of Cognac and some red wine after browning the short ribs.

She then simmers the mixture, which is further enriched by beef broth, more wine, and canned tomatoes. The rich, boozy liquid provides a hearty base for the meat to slowly cook in.