Tuscan Beef Stew with Polenta

This slow-cooked stew is perfect for dinner parties or cosy family meals.
  • For the beef stew
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut into medium dice
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 1kg stew beef (boneless chuck), excess fat trimmed, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 750ml dry red wine
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the polenta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 165g instant polenta
For the beef stew:
1) In heavy, large saucepan over a moderately-high heat, heat 3 tbsp oil until hot, but not smoking. Add the onion, carrot and celery and saute, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

2) Add the beef and saute, stirring occasionally, until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add wine and thyme, stir well, and bring to boil.

3) Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, then lower heat to moderately low, cover, and simmer, stirring every 15 minutes, until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.

4) When the beef is tender, use tongs to remove the tomato skins, if desired and the thyme sprigs. Turn the polenta out of the bowl, slice and serve alongside the stew.

For the polenta:
1) While the beef is simmering, make the polenta. Pour the olive oil into a large serving bowl and swirl to coat. Set aside.

2) In a heavy, large pan over a moderately-high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Lower the heat to moderate and gradually whisk in the polenta, stirring constantly. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until polenta thickens and pulls away from sides of pan, about 5 minutes.

3) Transfer the polenta to the oil-coated serving bowl and keep warm. Let the polenta sit for 5 to 10 minutes so it can set up.

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