A full bodied, warming beef stew for winter nights or hearty lunches.
Beef stew or spezzatino is a hearty winter stew made with beef, tomatoes and the battuto flavoured with a touch of wine. Spezzatino means ‘broken up’ and the meat eventually shreds into tender strips and becomes almost part of the sauce.
· 500g stewing steak, chopped into small bite sizes.
· 1 onion, 1 carrot and a piece of celery chopped very finely
· 1 carrot cut into slightly larger pieces
· 2 glasses of wine
· olive oil
· 1 bay leaf
· Pinch of thyme or a leaf of sage (or both)
· 2 litres of water
· Potato (optional)
Chop the onion, carrot and celery very finely (this is called a battuto).
In a casserole dish that is large enough to hold all the meat and quite a lot of liquid comfortably, heat some olive oil and stir in the battuto. You can increase the amount of carrot or onion to your liking. I like to add one or two carrots that are not so finely chopped to increase volume and intake of vegetables.
Once the vegetables have softened slightly, add the meat. When the meat is brown, add a couple of glasses of red wine and stir. Allow the wine to evaporate, then add the chopped tomatoes and the water.
Add a bay leaf, and some thyme or sage and salt to taste.
Cover and simmer gently on the hob until the meat is tender (about 3 hours). Or you can put the whole pan into the oven at a moderate heat (180C). Stir occasionally to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more water if it is sticking but the meat is still not tender enough to break up with a spoon.
Half way through the cooking, you can add a couple of potatoes cut into chunks to the mixture. This will thicken the spezzatino but will make the meal go further.
Serve with boiled new potatoes, rice or inside a pitta bread that has been slightly toasted and opened up.