Polenta with Red Wine Beef Stew | Authentic Italian Recipe
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Polenta is a traditional staple of northern Italian cuisine. While every region has its own preferred preparation, this pairing with a red wine beef stew is a good representation of a "typical" polenta dish. It's a hearty meal, perfect for a cold winter day. However, it's so delicious you may find yourself craving it in the heat of summer!
Watch the video where we made this recipe here:
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 onion
- 2 carrot
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 tomato, cubed
- 3 tbsp. (25g) unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. (450g) beef chunks for stewing
- 12.5 oz. (375ml) red wine
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- Bay leaves
- Fresh black pepper
- 3.5 cups (450g) corn meal
- 60 oz. (1.8 liters) water
Begin by making a simple vegetable broth. In a small saucepan, add 1/2 peeled onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk and the cubed tomato. Fill with water until all the veggies are submerged, then bring to a simmer on the stovetop. Salt to taste.
Dice the remaining onion, carrot and celery. In a medium skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the diced veggies and sautèe a few minutes until tender and slightly transparent.
Meanwhile, bring the olive oil up to medium/high heat on a heavy skillet, such as a cast iron. Brown the beef, then add them to the "soffritto" (onions, carrots and celery). Add the tbsp of flour and stir all together.
Pour in the red wine and add 3-4 bay leaves. Adjust heat to bring to a gentle simmer. Partially cover and allow to cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Occasionally, as the sauce reduces, add a small ladle of the vegetable broth to maintain moisture. The sauce should thicken but not to the point where it dries up and burns. Towards the end of the cook time, salt and pepper to taste.
If you're lucky enough to find dedicated polenta flour, we recommend following the included directions. We used the much more available alternative: corn meal. Real polenta is simply a finer grind of the same stuff, but this subtle difference drastically increases the necessary cook time.
Bring 60 oz. of water to boil. Liberally salt and gradually add the corn meal, whisking vigorously over medium heat. Continue stirring and cooking for about 15 minutes, or until the polenta becomes extremely thick. Stir in 1 tbsp. of butter and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before serving on a cutting board or large platter. We recommend serving it in slices with beef stew spooned on top!