A staple throughout Italy, spezzatino recipes vary depending on who’s cooking. Where some use beef, others use veal. While some are purists, many add tomatoes and herbs to add complexity. In northern Italy, spezzatino di manzo is served with polenta, while in the south, it is more typically enjoyed with crusty bread. At the end of the day, a good soffritto, fresh aromatics, and lots of patience, served alongside a beautiful Etna Rosso, will make this dish a family favorite in no time.
This hearty, deeply flavorful rustic Italian beef stew comes together easily, but requires time as it slowly cooks, breaking down the beef into delicious, melt-in-your-mouth morsels. We promise, it is worth the wait.
SPEZZATINO DI MANZO WITH POLENTA
▢ 1 yellow onion
▢ 2 carrots
▢ 2 celery ribs
▢ 2 cloves garlic
▢ 4 tbsp Heritage Blend Olive Oil
▢ 2 lbs beef chuck, cubed
▢ 4 tbsp all purpose flour (optional)
▢ salt and pepper
▢ 1/2 cup white (or red if you want a deeper wine flavor)
▢ 2 cups water or stock of your choice
▢ 1 sprig rosemary
▢ 4 sage leaves
▢ 1 sprig thyme
▢ 1 bay leaf
▢ 1 cup polenta
▢ 2 cups chicken stock
▢ 2 cups water
▢ 1 tsp fresh thyme
▢ 1/8 tsp Sicilian Chili Pepper Flakes
▢ 2 tbsp butter
▢ 1/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano
- Prepare your soffritto by finely mincing the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. You can always do this in a food processor, just be sure to pulse and stop before it becomes a purré.
- Pat the beef chunks dry with a clean towel and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Bring a heavy bottomed stew pot over medium-high heat and add 4 tbsp olive oil. Place half of the beef cubes carefully into the hot oil, but do not overcrowd the pan. You want the pieces to brown, and overcrowding will release too much liquid from the beef to allow each cube to brown evenly. Turn each piece over as they brown to sear every side. Remove seared pieces onto a paper-lined plate, and continue with the rest of the beef until it is all evenly browned.
- Add the soffritto to the pot and cook until the vegetables have softened, roughly 5 minutes. Add the beef back into the pot with 4 tbsp of flour (if using) and sauté until the flour begins to toast, but not burn.
- Add the white wine to deglaze. Using a wooden spoon, make sure to scrape up the bottom of the pan to help the wine deglaze properly.
- Once the wine has reduced by half, add the water (or stock if using) rosemary, sage, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot to cook for two hours, or until the beef is soft enough to cut with a spoon. The stew can rest overnight, or be served immediately.
- 45 minutes before you want to serve the stew, cook the polenta.
- Add 1 cup of polenta, 1 cup of water, and thyme to a medium sized pot and place over low heat. Place the rest of the water and stock in a separate pot and bring up to warm, but not simmering, temperature. Stir the polenta as it absorbs the water, when it begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, add one ladle full of warm water/stock mixture and stir until it is absorbed. Continue until all of the liquid is gone. This will take roughly 30-40 minutes. Fold in the butter, chili flakes, fresh cracked black pepper, and pecorino. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve with hot stew.