Friday, August 20, 2010

Spezzatino Rosso Italiano

Spezzatino Rosso Italiano
(Italian Red Stew)
serves 4 to 6
This is one of those meals that my mom would  make on  a  regular basis and which we, her kids,  never paid much attention to the recipe  for . . .  it was just always there.   When we were older and asked for a recipe, as with so many dishes  from an Italian-American kitchen  she would say "un po 'di questo e un po 'di quel" (a little  of this and a little of that).   This is my interpretation  of her non-recipe,  I  hope it does her honour.
1 pound beef stew meat
5 medium red potatoes, sliced into quarters and then each quarter in halves or thirds depending on the size of the potatoes 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled  and chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into  8 wedges
1 large celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch crescents
1 cup baby carrots, cut into 1-inch  pieces
3/4 cup pitted, whole Kalamata olives
8 white mushrooms, quartered
1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes (San Marzano if you can find  them), roughly crushed by hand
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1.  Combine the flour, cayenne, black pepper, and the salt  in a large (1 gallon) re-sealable  bag, massage to evenly distribute the ingredients.  Add the stew meat and shake/massage to evenly coat the  meat.
2.  In a medium sized pot bring 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to the ripple stage over medium high heat, add the stew meat from plastic bag and brown the meat thoroughly.
3.  When beef is  thoroughly browned, add the beef broth stirring  to incorporate the beef "bits" sticking  to the bottom  of the pot (deglazing).
4.  Stir in the tomatoes and the red wine.
5.  Add the onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and celery.  Stir to distribute. 
6.  Reduce the heat to achieve an even simmer, cover and continue cooking until the potatoes begin to soften, about 1 1/2 hours.
7.  Continue cooking  for an additional 1/2 hour until the carrots and potatoes are cooked through, add the mushrooms in  the last 15 minutes before serving.
8.  Correct seasoning and serve accompanied by grated Parmesan and crusty Italian or French bread.

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