Fratelli Perata Winery

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 grocery truck.

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
2 carrots
1-stalk celery
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 brown coat.

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.