Sunday, March 6, 2016

The homemade Sicilian beef stew: we call it "Spezzatino!"

Have you ever heard the word "spezzatino"? It's a word used in Sicily that refers to a very traditional dish and even though you won't find it in the dictionary the word as it sounds suggests something that is in little pieces: it's the Sicilian beef stew!
The best time to prepare this recipe if you have time is the day before you are going to eat it, because it will be a lot tastier!

Funny as it sounds few years ago I visited Ireland and one night I went to a typical pub outside Dublin called Johnny Fox where I ordered the classic Irish stew. Well... guess what? It was great because I said: it tastes like the spezzatino mum makes!!!
ingredients are similar, so in a word it tasted like home.
I found it hilarious.

These are the ingredients for the Sicilian stew for 4 people:

2 tbsp e.v.olive oil
500 gr diced beef (with no bones)
1 onion thinly chopped
2 big potatoes 
2 big carrotts
1 cougette
400 ml vegetable stocksalt & pepper

Peel the potatoes and carrotts and cut them in pieces. Cut the onion and the cougette as well. In a pot heat the oil of olive. 
Add the chopped onion and the beef pieces and brown all over by turning in the hot oil. After roughly 10 minutes reduce the heat add the carrotts, the potatoes, the cougette in chunks and the vegetable stock. 

Season with salt and pepper and let cook on a low heat for at least one hour with a lid, checking and stirring from time to time that the broth is not reducing too much before the vegetables are actually cooked.

If it is too thick then add some more boiling water. By contrast if the sauce is too watery let it cook a bit more without lid.

In the end you should get a quite thick kind of gravy made of the vegetable stock mixed with the meat juice and the vegs.

Serve hot with some warm rustic/crusty bread, perfect to polish all the sauce in the plate. Enjoy!

The perfect wine pairing for this recipe in my opinion is the Sicilian Mandrarossa Cava di Serpe. 

Quite an intense and structured red it is made of 60% Alicante Bouschet and 40% Merlot, both cultivar coming from the territory of Menfi, south/west of Sicily, precisely  located in the province of Agrigento. 

It has a ruby colour and is characterised by scents of plums, tyme and liquorice. It is also very good with lamb dishes.