Stracotto beef stew
Stracotto beef stew should be left to simmer for hours on the stove. The result is slow food of the unpretentious, old-fashioned kind.
I suppose every Italian housewife has her own recipe for making beef stew, very much dependent on what ingredients she happens to have in the fridge. There’s a stew from Rome, for Puglia, and for Lombardia.
A simmering stracotto invites personal interpretations as long as you stick to the basics. The idea is to take some beef in cubes or as a steak, add garlic, onion and other vegetables, herbs and spices and boil it in broth for hours until the meat is tender. Some wine won’t hurt, and if you are in Toscana, you use Chianti, in Piemonte it is Barolo or Nebbiolo, and in Abruzzo they prefer Montepulciano.
In any case you will end up with a substantial dish that invariably tastes great on cold winter days, when it is served with mashed roots, boiled potatoes, white beans, bread or even pasta. Buon appetito.
1 thick slice of pancetta or prosciutto crudo (dried ham) in small cubes
1 kg beef – in one piece or big cubes
1 tbsp flour
4 red onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 big handful of dried tomatoes
250 g mushrooms
500 ml of broth or beef stock
½ bottle of wine
Fresh thyme and oregano
4 bay leaves
1 dried peperoncino chili
Heat some olive oil in a big casserole and fry the pancetta and meat until slightly brown. Remove the meat from the pot.
Add more oil if necessary and fry whole garlic and onions cut in quarters until they starts to soften.
Return the meat to the pot and stir in a tablespoon of flour.
Add broth, beef stock and wine along herbs and spices, dried tomatoes and with the not too finely chopped vegetables.
Leave the dish to boil for at least one hour over low heat. Remember to stir occasionally and add more water or wine, if the dish seems to be drying out.
Adjust the taste before serving the stracotto beef stew.
Mashed roots are made from a half celery, 2 baking potatoes, and 1 parsnip, cleaned, chopped and boiled in minimum water.
Mash the roots with a knob of butter. Add salt. Stir in egg yolk and some parmesan cheese, when the roots have cooled a bit.
Heat the mash in the oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes before serving as a sidedish to the stracotto beef stew.