Nonna’s Italian Stew

October has arrived!  

Finally, we’re able to enjoy a break in the intense heat of this past summer.  All of these welcomed cooler days and chilly evenings officially ring in the time of year to prepare delicious, rib-sticking, hearty soups and stews.   So today, with daytime temps in the low 70’s, it was a perfect time to prepare my mother’s treasured stew.

Although we enjoy this throughout fall and winter, it is very special to my family because we traditionally serve this stew every Christmas eve, ladled on top of creamy polenta and thick slices of cheese.  Since my family is from the northern mountains of Italy, they do not live near the sea.  My relatives weren’t even aware of the Italian ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’ on Christmas eve!

Now this is definitely an Italian version of beef and vegetable stew.  It’s thick tomato base and garlic give this stew it’s distinctive difference.  Here is the recipe for our beloved Italian stew:

Nonna’s Italian Stew

2 lbs. round steak or London broil, cut into 1″ cubes
8 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
6 carrots, peeled, sliced into 1 – 2″ pieces
10 russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 2″ cubes
2 cups sliced celery, with the leaves chopped up
2 large onions, quartered
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
at least 12 oz. of tomato paste
at least 4 cups of water

In a large, deep, heavy pot, brown the meat cubes in the olive oil.
Add the garlic when the meat is browned (do not burn the garlic).
Add the tomato paste and the water.
Cook the meat approximately 45 minutes.
Add all of the vegetables and more water if it is too thick.
Add the parsley.
Cook for potatoes are ‘al dente’ and NOT mushy, about 20 minutes.
Always taste and change, taste and change to your preferences!

Even Coco, our Siamese, was able to sneak in the kitchen and lick up some of the sauce!  Yup . . . that good!
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