Italian beef, porcini and red wine stew

This is utterly delicious.  I served it with sweet potato wedges.


1 x 40g pack of dried porcini mushrooms

3 tbsp oil plus more if required

1 x 206g pack cubetti di pancetta

2 kg braising steak, cut into 5 cm pieces

50g butter

2 large onions, halved and sliced

1 tbsp light brown sugar

4 garlic cloves, crushed

75g Plain flour

1 litre beef stock

100ml red wine

100ml port or masala

6 bay leaves

6 sprigs of Thyme, leaves only

2 tbsp Worcester sauce

1 x 200g pack of cooked peeled chestnuts


Put the porcini into a bowl and cover with 250ml of boiled water and leave to soak for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, strain the mushrooms through a sieve, catching the liquid in a spare bowl, pressing as much liquid through as possible.  Set aside the mushrooms and strain the soaking liquid through a kitchen paper lined sieve to catch any grit; discard this and set aside the strained liquid.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large non stick casserole dish. Add the pancetta and fry for 5 minutes until golden.  Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Brown a few pieces of the steak at a time in the casserole, adding a little more oil if needed. Set aside with the pancetta.

Add 25g of the butter to the pan and gently brown the onions. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt and fry until soft and browned.

Heat the oven to 150, fan 130, gas mark 2. Add the garlic to the onions and fry out for 2 minutes.

Add the 50g of the flour, cook out and then add: porcini, bay leaves, thyme leaves, Worcester sauce, beef, pancetta, wine, port and porcini soaking liquid, season well. Bring to the boil and then place in the oven for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, add chestnuts and place back in oven for another 1 hour until beef is meltingly tender.

In a small bowl, mash together the remaining 25g flour with the remaining butter, softened, using a fork to make a paste. Bring the stew to a simmer on the stove, then stir in the paste, bring back to a simmer and cook out to thicken juices.


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