Ciao Italia Blog Exclusive Recipe: A Better Beef Stew

October 17, 2008

Here’s a recipe you won’t find on the Ciao Italia website.

Why is this a better beef stew? Because here Mary Ann recommends browning the meat cubes in a dutch oven or other, similar heavy pot with pancetta (Italian bacon) which gives the meat great flavor. Also, instead of adding cut up vegetables directly to the stew, Mary Ann recommends roasting the vegetables in the oven first and then adding them to the stew when the meat is tender. This makes a huge difference in flavor because roasting the vegetables allows them to caramelize, making the vegetables sweeter in taste.

A Better Beef Stew

Serves 6-8

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, diced or use regular bacon
2 pounds stew beef cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup flour
Salt to taste
Grinding black pepper
1 large red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cups dry red wine

Roasting the vegetables

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
4 red skin potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
4 stalks celery, washed and cut into 2 inch chunks

To brown the meat heat the olive oil in a large heavy dutch oven or similar pot; add the pancetta and cook it over medium heat until the pancetta begins to wilt and render its fat. Place the meat in a brown paper bag and add the flour and salt and pepper. Close the bag and shake it to coat the meat in the flour mixture. Add the meat to the pan and brown the pieces well on all sides. As the pieces brown, transfer them to a bowl.

Stir the onion and garlic into the pan; if the pan seems dry, add a little olive oil. Cook until the onion wilts. Return the meat to the pan along with the rosemary. Raise the heat to high and pour in the wine, just enough to cover the meat. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pan and cook until the meat is fork tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, toss the vegetables with the olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Bake them at 350F until they are tender, about 45 minutes. When the stew meat is cooked, add the vegetables to the stew pot. Enjoy!

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