Beef Stew with Polenta / Carbonade Valdostana

Val d’Aosta is the smallest and least well known region of Italy, located in the northwest corner of the Italian Alps. It is known for its rustic, hearty cooking. Carbonade valdostana was originally made from beef preserved in salt.

Serves 4-6


  • 2 pound chuck or sirloin roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Grinding black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra as needed
  • 1 large onion, finely minced
  • 2 cups red wine (We used Soave.)
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs sage leaves
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • Polenta
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal or stone ground
  • Salt


  1. Place the meat in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, bring meat to room temperature
  2. Place the flour and salt and pepper in a bag and add the meat cubes. Close bag and shake to lightly coat the cubes in the flour. Transfer meat to a plate.
  3. Melt butter in a stew pot and brown the meat cubes in batches on all sides. Transfer the cubes to a dish as they brown. Add the onion to the pan and cook gently until soft. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return the cubes to the pan along with the onions.
  4. Tie the herbs together with kitchen string and add them to the pot along with the cinnamon stick.
  5. Pour in the wine. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to simmer.
  6. Cover and cook over low heat for about 2 hours for chuck or 35 to 40 minutes for sirloin, or until meat is fork tender. Remove and discard the herbs and cinnamon stick.
  7. Serve over polenta.
  8. Note: Carbonade goes by many names and spellings. It is also known as carbonnade, carbonada or carbonata.
  9. Polenta
  10. Combine cornmeal with 2 cups of the water in a bowl; cover and let stand for several hours or overnight. When ready to cook, transfer the cornmeal to a heavy-duty saucepan and add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of water, the salt and stir the mixture well. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and stir often until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble and leave the sides of the pan; cook about 35 to 40 minutes.
  11. Pour onto serving platter; add the beef cubes and sauce and serve hot.
  12. Variation: Spread the polenta out onto a rimmed and oiled baking sheet and refrigerate until firm; cut into slices and lightly fry in olive oil and serve with the beef.

This recipe was featured on Season 27 - Episode 2723.

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Polenta is too thin. Should have 1.1/2 cup of farina to 4.1/2 cups of liquid.

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