Stufato di Manzo with Polenta (Beef Stew)

004This stew is the equivalent of the basic “little black dress,”  the essential recipe to have in your repertoire that you can serve anytime. You can dress her up for company or keep her simple and rustic depending on the occasion. The ingredients are accessible and affordable creating a richly flavored dish that is forever chic and never goes out of style (just like the little black dress hanging in the closet).




  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-2 1/4 pounds beef stew meat
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large (1 gallon) plastic freezer bag, combine the flour, salt and freshly ground pepper (you could use a bowl but the bag makes less mess).
  3. Add the meat, a few pieces at a time, seal up the bag and give it a shake until each piece is dusted with flour.
  4. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil, add meat and brown on all sides. Do this in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, you want a good sear on each piece to give the stew a rich flavor.
  5. When all the meat is browned, transfer to a large pot and add the red wine, beef broth, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and onion.
  6. Cover and cook until meat is tender and sauce has thickened, about 2 1/2 hours.


To prepare the polenta: (when you’re ready to serve)

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 1/2 cups of water to a rapid boil, salt to taste.
  2. Add polenta (instant) to water by pouring slowly while stirring until mixture is thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat, add the butter, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, spoon polenta into individual bowls, ladle hot stew on top.



When I serve this stew with vegetables, I always roast the carrots and potatoes separately, (350*) drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper (30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetable).

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