Lo Spezzatino di Manzo alle Spezie / Beef Stew in Red Wine and Spices

December 13, 2022

The addition of spices gives the dish a more defined character, makes it warmer, richer and rounded in flavour, perfectly suiting the festive Christmas season.

Don’t be tempted to add to much sage or rosemary, they are very strong and can very easily overpower the dish.

  • 1 kg of beef (suitable for long and gentle cooking), cut into large chunks 
  • half a bottle of Chianti wine
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • a tin of pelati (peeled tomatoes)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 medium celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • about 5 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 small sprig of rosemary, leaves finely chopped 
  • 1 small dry chilli pepper, seeds removed
  • 4-5 generous gratings of nutmeg
  • 3-4 pinches of ground cinnamon
  • 3-4 pinches of ground cloves
  • a generous pinch of sugar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil for frying
  • plain flour for dusting the meat

Pat dry the pieces of beef and dust them with flour.

Heat up on a medium heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan with tall sides (or Dutch oven).

Add the prepared beef and fry on all sides until golden in colour (you may have to do it in batches, depending on the size of the dish). Add more olive oil if needed.

Move the sealed beef chunks along with the released juices during frying onto a separate plate and keep warm.

Pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan and heat it up on a medium heat.

Add the chopped vegetables and fry for about 8-10 minutes (or until softened) stirring occasionally, making sure not to burn the garlic.

Now move the beef back into the pot with the vegetables.

Give everything a stir, put the heat up and pour in the wine.

Carry on cooking and once the wine has reduced by half, add to the pot the tomato puree and tinned tomatoes.

Season the stew with dry chilli pepper (left whole), spices, sugar, salt and pepper. 

Add the freshly chopped herbs and give everything a good stir.

Cover the dish with a lid and let it bubble away on a low heat for about 3 hours (or longer depending on the size of the meat pieces) or until the meat starts to almost fall apart. Check the stew whilst cooking, stirring it occasionally and adjusting the seasoning, mainly with the salt.

If the resulting sauce is too thin, cook the stew on a medium to low heat without the lid, until obtaining the desired consistency. 

Lo spezzatino is a dream served with a potato puree and a fresh crunchy salad on the side.