Mama's Beef Stew
All our recipes have Mama's (Mafalda Diorio Perata) influence. If not
taken directly from her, the basics come from her way of cooking.
Growing up rural and self-sufficient, food came from fresh ingredients,
what was on hand, or special ingredients from visitors or the passing
Many recipes have the same, essential beginning: a cut of beef, onion,
and garlic are chopped, put in a heavy saucepan and browned with olive
oil over pretty high heat, until a nice crust with wonderful aromas
appear. From here comes a spaghetti sauce, a stroganoff, or a stew. It
just depends on what else is on hand. Sometimes you just feel like
having a nice warming stew.
2 pounds chuck roast
1 onion, medium or large
2 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil
3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled
1/2 tsp thyme
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup red wine
1 cup peas
1/2 tsp thyme
Cut the beef into chunks, uniform size as possible. Chop onion and
garlic. Add olive oil to a heavy 2-quart saucepan, heat to medium high.
Add parsley and beef, stirring until moisture has evaporated. Then add
onion and garlic, stirring together and cooking until all sport a nice
Add vegetables, which have been cut to the same size as the chunks of
beef. Add tomato sauce, red wine, and thyme. Add 1 cup or more water to
cover all well, depending on size of pan. Don't crowd. Bring to a boil,
and then simmer on the stove approximately 1 1/2 hours. Don't cover or
the house won't smell like home. Or cover for the first hour if you
can't stir the pot, but then reduce the amount of liquid at the
beginning by half.
Add peas, fresh or frozen, and cook another 30 minutes. Or add canned
peas (remember, it's all about what's on hand) during the last 10
minutes. Cooking time is approximate, look for tender beef, fork soft
vegetables, and just enough liquid to make you wonder if you should use
a fork or a spoon.
Serve hot with crusty breads and Cabernet Sauvignon.