Rick Rodgers - cuisine americane
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Makes 6 to 8 servings

Introduction

My friend Diane has an apartment in Chianti, and I try to get over to visit her as often as possible.  This is just the kind of thing that we'll make on a chilly evening after a trip to the local market.  If you wish, skip the dumplings and serve the stew tossed with ziti or penne.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (1 ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, approximately
  • 3 1/2 pounds beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 4 medium celery ribs with leaves, cut into 1-inch lengths, leaves chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup hearty red wine
  • One 28-ounce can tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup beef stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or use 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Polenta Dumplings

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup polenta (not quick-cooking) or yellow cornmeal

Directions

1. In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in the boiling water until softened, 20 to 30 minutes. Lift the mushrooms out of the water and chop coarsely. Strain the soaking liquid through a paper towel-lined wire sieve set over a bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large ovenproof Dutch oven or casserole, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. In batches without crowding, brown the beef, adding more oil as needed, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the onion, celery, and garlic. Cover and cook over medium heat until the onions are well softened, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and strained mushrooms liquid. Bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth, rosemary, and bay leaf. Return the beef with the soaked mushrooms to the Dutch oven and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low . Simmer, covered, until the meat is tender, about 2 hours. Skim the fat off the top of the cooking liquid.

3. In a small bowl, work the butter and flour into a paste and set aside. Whisk about l cup of the cooking liquid into flour mixture until smooth. Stir back into the stew. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Gradually whisk in the polenta. Whisk over medium-low heat until very thick, about 2 minutes. Drop 6 large spoonfuls of the polenta into the stew and cover. Cook until the polenta dumplings are set and the sauce is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot, directly from the Dutch oven, with Parmesan cheese passed on the side.

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