Beef stew with potatoes (Spezzatino con patate)
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- 900 grams (2 lb) Cubed beef (shoulder)
- 450 grams (1 lb) Potatoes (medium size)
- 1 Large onion (finely chopped)
- 200 grams (7 oz) Baby carrots (leave them whole)
- 40 grams (1 1/2 oz) Tomato purée if you want the finished stew to be noticeably red, use 40 g (1 1/2 ounces) of tomato purée, otherwise, for a more pinkish finish, add just 25 g (3/4 ounce).
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 Beef stock cube
- Olive oil for the initial sauté
- Salt and black pepper for seasoning
- Some white flour for coating the meat
- Remove the eye from the baby carrots with a small pairing knife. Then, if you don’t peel them (as I did), give them a good wash, scrub, rinse.
- Coat the meat cubes with flour.
- Take a frying pan, add little oil and sear the meat cubes on a high heat. Remember to shake the cubes before adding them into the pan, so that you get rid of the flour in excess.
- If you have lots of meat cubes to sear, it is preferable to do it in batches. Once the meat has achieved a nice brown colour on one side, it is time to turn the piece of meat. Try to sear all the sides of the piece of meat.
- The searing of the meat should take only few minutes. Use a tray to temporary accommodate the meat pieces once browned (they will stay on the tray only for few minutes).
- While you are searing the meat, make your stock dissolving the stock cube in 500 ml (2 1/8 cups) of boiling water.
- Take a large pan (I used a 28 cm – 11" wide aluminium sauté pan), put a splash of olive oil (with the oil, if you like, you can also add a tiny knob of butter) and sauté the onion on a medium heat.
- After the onions, add the baby carrots.
- Give it a good stir and sauté for a couple of minutes or so, without letting the onion to get too much colour.
- When the onions are lightly coloured, add the meat into the pan.
- Give it a gentle stir.
- Add about 400 ml (1 5/8 cup) of the hot stock into the pan and reserve the remaining 100 ml (1/2 cup) for later (in case the pan content gets too dry). We don't want to cover the meat completely with the stock.
- Next, add the tomato purée and gently stir.
- Add the bay leaves.
- Bring the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer for about 60 minutes and during this stage, if the meat looks too dry, feel free to add the remaining 100 ml (1/2 cup) of stock left.
- Next, wash-peel-wash and quarter the potatoes. Put them into a pan with lightly salted cold water.
- Put the pan onto a medium heat and when the water starts boiling, boil for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes boiling, drain the potatoes and set aside.
- Here is the spezzatino after 60 minutes simmering. Now, it is time to add the potatoes into the pan. Give a gentle stir, so that the potatoes are well mixed into the stew.
- Cover with a lid and continue simmering for another 30 minutes. As I said before, the overall cooking time could vary depending on what type of meat cuts you have been using. As a general guidance I suggest adding the potatoes in the last 30 minutes of the cooking.
- 15 minutes before the end, I remove the lid and if there is still too much liquid into the pan, then finish the cooking without lid. However, once you add the potatoes, these will usually have a thickening effect.
- At the same time, just about 15 minutes before the end, taste and correct the seasoning to your liking, by adding some salt.
- Then, season with black pepper.
- This is the spezzatino after 90 minutes cooking. I checked the meat and it was beautifully cooked and tender.
- In Italy, we serve the spezzatino with polenta and a nice glass of red bodied wine is a must. Buon appetito!
- This is a picture I took when I was in Italy, last winter, at my parents house. It shows spezzatino with potatoes and the unmissable polenta.