Italian Stew of Beef, Potato and Saffron (Spezzatino)
I have always loved the simplicity of Sicilian cooking and it always amazes me how just a few simple ingredients can be turned into something deliciously amazing. “Spezzatino” is like a type of stew/soup depending on what you add to the dish. I had something like this recipe in a tiny local trattoria in Palermo and I loved it, the sauce was that wonderful golden yellow colour from the saffron, the meat melted in your mouth and the potatoes although in large chunks, were soft and creamy. This dish is a favourite with the men in my family and makes a hearty winter meal served with crusty bread.
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil
- 1 tblsp butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1 stalk of celery finely diced
- 1 kg stewing beef or chuck steak , cut into 3 cm cubes
- 800 g potatoes, cut into 3cm cubes
- 1liters beef stock
- Good pinch of saffron
- 1 tblsp corn flour
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- crusty bread, to serve
You could also use veal steaks if you prefer, in which case, cut it into 1.5 – 2 cm cubes.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or heavy-based flameproof casserole dish over medium heat and fry the potatoes for 4-5 minutes until golden. Remove them from the pot and set aside.
Add in the meat and cook for 4 minutes until sealed, remove it from the pan and set it aside.
Add in the onions, carrots and celery and sauté for 2 minutes or until translucent and softened.
Add the meat back into the pot and cover with the stock, season well with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
Cook for 1 hour until the meat is tender.
Add in the potatoes and cook for a further 20 minutes being careful not to break them up too much.
The consistency should be slightly creamy from the starches in the potatoes, if you want the stew to have a little more consistency to it, combine the tablespoon of the corn flour to some of the hot stock and return this to the stew along with the chopped parsley.
Serve with crusty bread.