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Tuscan Beef Stew

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Italian cooks are famous for cooking creatively and deliciously with a handful of ingredients. This stew is typical of Tuscany, where many dishes include the local red wine. Don’t bother opening up a bottle of fine Chianti for cooking—moderately priced American or Australian wine will do. Serve it over hot polenta or small pasta, such as ditalini.

Pancetta is the same cut as bacon but rolled up into a cylinder and cured without smoke. You’ll find it at many supermarkets and certainly all Italian delicatessens. Ask the deli person to slice it on the thick side, about ¼ inch thick, and not paper thin, as is probably their habit. If you can’t find it, use regular sliced bacon.

6 servings

Cooking Methodstewing

CostModerate

Easy

Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationlactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Moodblue

Taste and Textureherby, meaty, savory, winey

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces pancetta, sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup hearty red wine, such as Sangiovese, Zinfandel, or Shiraz
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Prep: Cut pancetta into ¼- to 1½-inch dice. Chop onion. Chop celery crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices.

  2. Combine pancetta and olive oil in Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta browns, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to plate. Season beef with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Increase heat to medium-high. In batches, add to fat in pot and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate with pancetta.

  3. Add onion and celery to pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Add wine to pot, scraping up browned bits on bottom, and bring to boil. Return beef, pancetta, and any juices on plate to pot. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer until beef is tender, about 1½ hours.

  4. Stir in basil. Serve hot.

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I made this yesterday. It was delicious, though I think next time I'll add more basil (love basil). Getting ready to have leftovers!

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