Pastissada de Manzo

Venetian Beef Stew


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This hearty dish originated on the peasant stoves of the Veneto. Although those dwelling in the coastal areas naturally preferred fish and shellfish as the major source of protein, inland meat would have occasionally graced the menus. A rich stew such as this one, on top of a mound of polenta, would have stretched a lot further and fed many more mouths. The idea of this quantity of meat feeding just four people would have seemed wildly extravagant only a century ago.


  • 1 kg/ lb stewing beef, trimmed
  • 1 large onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 large celery stick, cut into chunks
  • 750 ml/ pints/3 cups red wine
  • 3 cloves
  • a large pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp lightly crushed black peppercorns
  • 115 g/4 oz thinly sliced pancetta, lardons or streaky/fatty bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • polenta, to serve


  1. Put the whole piece of stewing beef in a large bowl. Add the onion, carrot, celery and red wine, then add the cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns.

  2. Mix together, turning the meat in the marinade. Cover and chill for about 24 hours.
  3. Remove the meat from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Blot away the excess liquid from the meat using kitchen paper.
  4. Pierce the meat all over using the point of a sharp knife. Insert the pancetta, lardons or bacon into the holes using your fingers to help work them deep into the meat.

  5. Pour the marinade into a flameproof casserole and bring it to the boil over a high heat, then add the marinated meat. Mix a ladleful of the marinade with the tomato paste and pour this back into the casserole. Stir to combine.
  6. Cover the casserole with a lid and turn the heat down to the lowest setting, then simmer very gently for about 3 hours, or until the meat is falling apart. (Alternatively, transfer the casserole to the oven, preheated to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3, for 3 hours.) Turn the meat in the marinade occasionally during the cooking process.
  7. When the meat is cooked through and tender, remove it from the marinade and set it aside on a board or serving platter. Reserve the marinade remaining in the casserole.
  8. Cook the contents of the casserole over a medium heat, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened. Adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Carve the meat and place it on one big serving dish or distribute it between individual plates, accompanied by a mound of soft polenta. Pour the sauce over the meat and serve hot.