Beef Stew, Lombardy Style / Stracotto alla Lombarda
The success of this classic beef stew from Lombardy depends on several things: The marinating time (overnight is best), the use of a good red wine, and the flavoring of the onions with pancetta, or Italian bacon. Once cooked, the stew is even better the next day, served with slices of golden polenta.
- 3 pounds boneless rump or eye round roast
- 2 1/2 cups dry red wine such as Barolo
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup diced pancetta
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Coarse salt and pepper to taste
- Place the meat in a deep heatproof, noncorrosive casserole just large enough to hold it. Add the wine, half the onion, and the garlic, celery, nutmeg, bay leaves, and cloves. Cover the meat and refrigerate several hours or overnight, turning the meat occasionally.
- When ready to cook, drain the meat from the marinade and wipe dry. Drain the vegetables and reserve. Save the marinade.
- Wipe the casserole dry and melt the butter. Add the pancetta and the remaining onion. Sauté for 3 or 4 minutes or until the pancetta just begins to crisp and the onion is soft. Transfer the mixture to a plate and reserve.
- Rub the meat with the flour and add to the drippings in the casserole. Brown the meat slowly on all sides. Return the pancetta mixture to the casserole along with the reserved vegetables. Cook slowly about 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and pour in the reserved marinade. Bring the mixture to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook about 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
- Remove the meat to a platter. Remove the bay leaves and cloves and discard. Place the remaining liquid and vegetables in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Slice the meat and top with the sauce.