Spezzatino (Italian Beef Stew)
This is a very rustic and delicious dish, normally served in the winter in Italy. It goes an incredibly long way, feeding many if you like. I planned to be home most of the day, Holiday decorating. I decided early on that this dish was going to be the best way to end my day. I had some stew meat in my freezer that needed to be used and some good Organic Vegetables left in the refrigerator. It was so wonderful to smell this cooking all morning. Beef stew is so good re-heated. When I got home from late afternoon grocery shopping, all I had to do was warm the plates, and heat the stew just a little bit, some crusty bread and serve.
Ingredients: four 4 people
2 pounds of beef chuck roast cut in small 1 inch pieces
One stalk of celery diced.
3 large carrots diced
1/2 Spanish onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
about 8 small red potatoes cubed
3 turnips cubed (optional, from the broccoli rabe family)
one teaspoon of tomato paste
One cup of white wine
A dutch oven with a secure lid
3 tablespoons of olive oil/ one tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of salt
one teaspoon of pepper.
One handful fresh parsley/ or/ one teaspoon dried parsley
7-8 cups of water or you can use vegetable stock.
(I always use water)
Heat your oil in the bottom of your dutch Oven. Add your beef, one teaspoon of salt, pepper and brown. Let the fat bubble away. Add your white wine and let reduce again until all that is left is your beef in the pan. Remove your beef and set aside. Add your onion and garlic and saute until fragrant. Add your teaspoon of tomato paste and mix into the oil. Add your carrot and celery. Add your potatoes and mix. Add your cut up turnips if you like (optional). Remember the more goodness you put into your stew, the more flavor you will get out of it. Keep mixing until your vegetables are well heated. At this point return your beef to the pan. Add another teaspoon of salt. Give it a mix. Add your water and stock to the pan. Make sure your vegetables and beef is covered by at least one inch of liquid. Sprinkle in a handful of fresh parsley. If it's not available, a teaspoon of dried will do fine. Place your lid on. When your stew begins to boil, set it to simmer and place the lid ajar. It needs to cook slowly for 2 - 2 and 1/2 hours. Your liquid will reduce by at least a 1/3. If you are making this in advance of the day, set it aside to rest. This dish is so much better well rested and re-heated some. The flavors intensify as they have a chance to come together. Serve in bowls with some of the reserved liquid and lots of Crusty bread. A wonderful glass of good Chianti and dinner is served! Buon Appetito.
Special note: If you see your liquid has reduced to much, it is fine to add some more liquid to your stew as it continues to cook. Do not worry, just make sure your heat is set to simmer and let it evaporate again.