This typical Italian beef stew is hearty and delicious. If you have time, you can sprinkle salt, herbs and spices over the meat and then let it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you begin with the recipe. Else just follow the recipe as it is written, adding your herbs and spices later. You can use any herbs or spices you want to use, and we have suggested a few nice ones in the recipe that you might want to consider. This recipe is sometimes known as ‘carbonnade’ or ‘carbonada’ or even ‘carbonata’.
You can use chuck beef or another kind of stewing beef if you prefer, and the cooking time depends on the cut of beef you are using. You can chop the meat into cubes or strips, as you prefer. Along with the beef and a little flour we are adding yellow onion, red wine and the herbs and spices. That is all you need to get this recipe perfect with a rich and hearty flavor. A lot of stew recipes have many ingredients but this one shows you can keep things quite simple and still end up with an excellent dish which is great over rice or polenta.
This dish comes from the Aosta Valley in the Northwest of Italy – the smallest, least populous part of the whole country. The cuisine of this region is simple and revolves around potatoes, meat, cheese, polenta and other robust ingredients. A lot of the local dishes include Fontina, a cheese made locally in the valley. In the Aosta Valley this stew is usually served over polenta, but rice, mashed potatoes, pasta or even bread would pair well with it. We like to sprinkle some minced parsley over the top just before serving.
- 2 lbs chopped chuck beef or stewing beef
- All-purpose flour, as needed
- 1 finely minced yellow onion
- 2 oz butter, plus a little vegetable oil
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Red wine, as needed
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, to serve (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 thyme sprig
- 4 sage leaves
- A scrape of nutmeg
- Flour the beef cubes then sauté them in the butter and oil until golden all over.
- Remove the beef from the pan and add in the onion, then sauté it until tender.
- Grind in some salt and black pepper and add the beef back in to the pan.
- Simmer the beef and onions for 3 minutes then add a splash of red wine but not enough to cover the beef.
- Now you can add the herbs and spices to the pot in between the beef pieces.
- The ones listed above are simply suggestions - use whatever you have.
- Cover the pot and simmer the beef for 90 minutes to 2 hours or until tender.
- Stir the mixture occasionally so the sauce does not stick to the pot.
- You can add more wine if needed, or a splash of water.
- However it is best to let the sauce reduce near the end of cooking.
- Serve over polenta, rice, pasta or with bread.
- Sprinkle a little minced parsley over the stew before serving if liked.
This dish tastes every bit as rich and gorgeous as it looks in the photo. We are keeping the ingredients simple here, using beef, red wine, onion and herbs and spices. The secret is the long, slow cooking time, so the sauce can thicken up, the herbs and spices can flavor the dish, and the beef can become really tender. Served with polenta, mashed potatoes, rice, noodles, or bread, this makes a really delicious dinner. If you have time, sprinkle salt, herbs and spices over the beef 24 hours before preparing the meal, so it can soak up those extra flavors.
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