Italian Beef Stew with Wine AND Basic Risotto

2015-10-14 18.19.22RECIPES #89 and #90, DAY #108

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Beef Stew with Red Wine and Vegetables” and “Risotto with Parmesan Cheese, both from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan*

TIMING: 2 1/2 hours (1/2 hour for the risotto)

DIFFICULTY: Super easy for the stew, and a little more complicated for the risotto

TOOLS: A heavy cooking pot with a tight lid and a few other basic things

COOK TYPE: Stovetop

HEALTH: A meat roast with veggies is a great, hearty and healthy dinner that you can plate up for your family without any guilt. Officially, our family eats no more than 4 ounces a piece for a dinner, but paired with all the veggies and a grain, you have yourself a meal that feels indulgent but isn’t really.

EXPERIENCE: I bought beef stew meat at the grocer, on sale. From there, I went to the ol’ spreadsheet and found that I had what it would take to make this Italian classic. I used less meat because we just never eat more than a pound and I lurve veggies.

It was wonderful, although the recipe for risotto was surprisingly dull. I made some changes for you, because I love a great risotto, and for me, a great risotto has a certain simple depth of flavor which must include an acidic bite.

Definitely we’ll be having this again.


  1. In a medium saute pan, cover the bottom with safflower oil. Heat over medium-high heat and when the oil is hot but not smoking, add a roomy layer of 1 pound beef stew meat. (Not all of it will fit at one time.) Brown well on all sides, then remove each piece to a plate and continue until all the meat is browned.
  2. If there is a lot of fat, pour it out of the pan. Add 1/2 cup dry red wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the meat bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.
  3. Peel 1 pound pearl onions and cut the tight end with a shallow X.
  4. In a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, dump your meat, pan juices, the onions, 1 cup red wine, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
  5. Add 4 carrots cut into sticks. Cover again and cook for 45 minutes.
  6. Add 4 celery stalks cut into thick sticks. Cover again and cook for 45 minutes.
  7. Add 1 1/2 pounds fresh peas, or if using frozen, wait. Cover and cook 15 minutes.
  8. Add salt and pepper and check meat for tenderness. Also, if using frozen peas, add 1 pound and stir, then cook until everything has heated through, again. Taste for salt and pepper.



  1. Optionally, you can bring 5 cups beef (chicken, or mushroom) stock to a simmer and keep it hot on a back burner while you make your risotto. Otherwise, keep your beef broth at room temp.
  2. In a medium-large sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons minced onion and saute until translucent. Add 2 cups Arborio rice and stir until rice is coated.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1/2 cup dry, white wine and cook, stirring, until wine is almost completely absorbed.
  4. Add 1/2 cup warm broth and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom, until the liquid is absorbed. Now, repeat this step over and over, until you’ve used almost all your broth, then start tasting for done-ness. During cooking, you should maintain a gentle simmer across the surface.
  5. Risotto is done when tender on the outside (but not mooshy) and al dente in the middle (but not overly toothsome). If you run out of broth, use warm water to finish. The risotto should be wet, but not runny.
  6. Add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 2 tablespoons butter and stir to melt the cheese. Taste for salt and optional pepper. Serve immediately.


Serve with the beef stew here, or with just about any other refined dinner. Risotto is very versatile, but an Italian meat and vegetable–like a roast and some broccoli rabe–would be perfect.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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