In addition to tender chunks of beef and carrots and a deeply flavored sauce, this Slow Braised Italian Beef Stew also features fire-roasted tomatoes, briny olives, pearl onions and lots of fresh rosemary for a delicious taste of Italy!
When cold winds blow and the skies are gray and damp, there's something wonderfully appealing about a hearty beefy stew that's been gently roasted to perfection with meltingly tender chunks of beef, a rich wine-based sauce and plenty of fresh vegetables. This Slow Braised Italian Beef Stew starts out with the traditional stew ingredients, but also features a handful of classic Mediterranean ingredients that will make your taste buds feel like they've taken a magic carpet ride to Italy! Are you ready?
If you love beef stew, you might want to also check out our Make-Ahead Beef Bourguignon and our Provencal Beef Stew (aka Daube). Both of these stews are French-inspired and were originally peasant fare, meals that could be made with produce from the garden and inexpensive cuts of meat.
I'm guessing that this Italian beef stew had the same humble origins. That's so interesting to me because these days, entrees of beef stew can be found on the menus of the fanciest and most highly acclaimed restaurants. And personally, beef stew is one of my favorite things to serve for winter dinner parties and get-togethers with family and friends.
One of the things I love about serving beef stew when entertaining is that all the work can be done in advance. This Slow Braised Italian Beef Stew is no exception. And it's one of those dishes that actually seems to taste even more delicious after it's been cooked and refrigerated for a day, giving the ingredients a chance to meld, mingle and marry.
Good to make on a day at home
You'll need about 30 minutes to prep this Italian beef stew and then the oven will do the work to tenderize the beef and meld all the delicious ingredients together. The recipe starts with searing seasoned chunks of beef, then sautéing onions, with garlic, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and brown sugar.
Next comes wine, which is reduced a bit and then broth, fire-roasted tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and a good scoop of capers. Bring all this to a boil and your work is about done, the oven will do the rest!
How to serve this Slow Braised Italian Beef Stew
There are lots of options for serving this Italian beef stew. Mashed potatoes are a wonderful pairing as is polenta. I've also served it over fettuccine, in keeping with the Italian theme (and of course pasta always seems to be a universal hit).
Sometimes I keep things simple and serve steaming bowls of this Slow Braised Italian Beef Stew accompanied by a loaf of warm crusty bread and sweet creamery butter.
One last option, is to add some diced potatoes along with the carrots, making for a complete, delicious meal in a bowl!
However you decide to serve this Slow Braised Italian Beef Stew, it will be sure to be a big hit. It's the perfect meal to take the chill off of a fall or winter day and serving it might make you feel like you're the proprietor of a charming little trattoria somewhere in the heart of beautiful Italy! Buon appetito!
Cafe Tips for making this Slow Braised Italian Beef Stew
- Although much of this recipe is hands-off with the oven working the magic, searing is an important initial step to develop wonderful flavor. You want the beef to brown nicely on the outside, not to steam it. Here a few steps to ensure good searing:
- Use a large, heavy-duty pot. A pot made from stainless steel or an enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven works well. Non stick pots are great for some things but not for searing.
- Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before seasoning. This helps the meat fibers to relax and allows the moisture to reabsorb. Dry off any excess moisture with a paper towel before seasoning.
- Make sure the oil is hot, but not too hot, before adding the beef. Heat over medium-high until the oil has thinned out and is shimmering. Don't let it get so hot that you see a lot of smoking, that means the oil is on the verge of burning.
- Make sure the oil is, again, nice and hot before adding the second batch of beef.
- Don't overcrowd the beef in the pan. In my average size Dutch oven, I can sear 3 pounds of beef nicely in two batches.
- Don't touch the beef for the first 3 minutes. Allow it to brown then flip it over so that the other sides can get some browning too.
- When you sear, there will be splatter, so use the tallest heavy-duty pot or Dutch oven that you have.
- When you're done searing the beef there will be a crusty brown layer on the bottom of the pot. This is called "fond", a French culinary term meaning "stock". It's what creates a fabulously flavored stock or sauce. When you lower the heat and add the onions after browning the meat, the juice from the onions will begin to dissolve (or "deglaze", in culinary language) the fond. The wine that's added a little later will finish this process.
- I'm not a fan of anchovies (to be honest, I'm a bit squeamish at the site of the little unattractive fishies) but anchovy paste is quite magical and adds a delicious layer of flavor in dishes like this Italian beef stew. You'll find anchovy paste at most grocery stores in the same area as the canned tuna and other canned meats. Feel free to use an equal amount of finely chopped anchovies.
- If you can find a really good tasting beef broth, chicken broth will also work in this recipe. I really like Trader Joe's chicken broth and Swanson too.
- You'll need about 3 pounds of chuck roast for this recipe. Look for meat that is well-marbled. But if the roast you're selecting has a lot of excess fat, purchase a little larger piece, about 3½ pounds since you'll be discarding a little more.
- I often use baby carrots for this recipe to save time as they are already peeled. I just cut each one on the diagonal into two or three slices, depending on the size. Look for the little fat baby carrots vs the super tiny ones.
- This Slow Braised Italian Beef Stew can be made 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated. I like doing this, as any extra fat will solidify and can be spooned off before reheating on medium-low until nice and hot.
Thought for the day:
Those who know your name
trust in you, for you, LORD,
have never forsaken those who seek you.
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- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3-3½ pounds well-marbled beef chuck roast trimmed of large pieces of fat and cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 6 medium cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups dry red wine
- 28 ounces cans fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups low sodium beef or chicken broth maybe more
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary divided
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons capers drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces carrots About 4 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices on a diagonal (or 8 ounces of baby carrots).
- 2 cups pearl onions
- ¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives
Combine garlic salt, onion powder and pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
Cut the beef into chunks about 1½-2 inches in size, trimming off any large areas of fat. Place the meat in a large bowl. Sprinkle the garlic salt mixture over the beef and stir well to coat.
Preheat the oven to 325˚F. In a large heavy-duty pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until hot and shimmering. Add ½ of the seasoned beef and spread to a single layer. Cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes or until the underside of the beef is well browned. Stir, flipping meat to the opposite side.
Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring once to redistribute meat halfway through. Remove meat with a slotted spoon to a large clean plate or bowl. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot and repeat the searing with the second half of the beef, adding the second batch again to the plate (or bowl).
Lower the heat to medium-low and add the onions, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes until softened. As the onions begin to release their juices, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, brown sugar and anchovy paste. Cook, stirring frequently until tomato paste is darkened, about 2-3 more minutes.
Add the beef (with any juice that has accumulated in the bowl) back to the pan. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until the flour is dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Add the wine, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced to about one half. Add the tomatoes, beef (or chicken) broth, 1 tablespoon of the chopped rosemary, capers and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1½ hours.
Remove the pot from the oven and add the carrots and pearl onions. If there's not much liquid in the pot, add ½-1 cup additional broth. Return the pot to the oven for another 60 to 90 minutes or until the beef and carrots are nice and tender (check after 60 minutes and every 10 minutes after that).
Stir in the olives and the remaining tablespoon of fresh rosemary, cover and allow the stew to sit on the stovetop for 20 minutes before serving.
See the suggestions above in the post on what to serve with this stew.
See Café Tips above in the post for further instructions and detailed tips.