In the culinary arts, the word Dijon (pronounced "dee-zone") refers to a style of prepared mustard that originates in the city of Dijon, which is the capital of the Burgundy region of France in the eastern part of the country.
"Prepared mustard" simply means any mustard already in condiment form as opposed to mustard powder.
The traditional Dijon mustard recipe includes white wine and ground brown mustard seeds along with salt and other spices. Dijon mustard has a pale yellow color and slightly creamy consistency. Black mustard seeds can also be used.
Origins of Dijon Mustard
The Burgundy region (called Bourgogne in French) has a rich culinary history, and it's especially known for its wines. Beef bourguignon, a classic stew made by braising beef in red wine along with mushrooms, pearl onions, and bacon, originated there, and so did the traditional coq au vin.
The fact that the city of Dijon was the capital of one of France's most renowned wine-producing regions has a lot to do with the fact that the mustard made there has been considered the best for two and a half centuries.
One of the crucial ingredients in traditional Dijon mustard is something called verjuice, or verjus in French, which is a juice made from unripe grapes (vert in French means green). This tart liquid gives Dijon mustard its characteristic flavor, and if you can get your hands on some, and are inclined to make your own Dijon mustard, you will find the results authentic.
Nevertheless, lemon juice or vinegar are a fine substitute. The recipe also includes white wine, and if authenticity is your thing, by all means, use a white wine from the Burgundy region, like Chablis or Bourgogne Blanc (which are made from Chardonnay grapes).
At one time, any product called Dijon mustard had to be made in or around the city of Dijon — a so-called "protected designation of origin," as in Champagne or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mustard produced elsewhere had to be called "Dijon-style mustard" or simply "dijon mustard" with a lowercase "D".
Today, however, the term "Dijon mustard" has become generic, so any mustard using the basic Dijon recipe can be called Dijon mustard.
Making Dijon-style mustard is fairly simple — it's mostly a matter of grinding up mustard seeds and puréeing along with white wine, vinegar, and salt. But it's important to soak the mustard seeds before using them, and you need to refrigerate the finished mustard for 24 hours before serving.