Stewed Beef Cubes with Pickles, Capers, and Red Wine

Spezzato di Manzo al Vino Rosso con Cetriolini e Capperi


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • pounds beef, preferably chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ½ cup flour, spread on a plate
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cup finely chopped onion
  • ¼ pound pancetta, cut into thin strips
  • A medium to thick carrot, chopped fine, about ½ cup
  • A medium celery stalk, chopped fine, about ½ cup
  • 3 tablespoons very finely chopped small cucumber pickles such as cornichons, about 4 pickles
  • 2 tablespoons capers, chopped very fine
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh
  • cup not too tannic red wine such as Barb era or a young Chianti or Merlot


  1. Put the vegetable oil in a small skillet and turn on the heat to high. Dredge some of the meat cubes in flour, no more at one time than can fit loosely in the pan; and as soon as the oil is hot enough to sizzle when a piece of meat is slipped into it, put the cubes that you dredged in flour into the skillet.
  2. Turn them for a minute or so until they become colored a dark brown on all sides, then transfer them to a bowl, using a slotted spoon or spatula. Dredge some more of the beef cubes in flour, and repeat the procedure until you have browned all the meat. (The reason you don’t want to turn it in flour all at one time in advance is that the coating would become soggy and prevent you from obtaining a crisp surface on the meat.)
  3. Choose a saucepan that can easily contain all the beef cubes; put into it the olive oil, the chopped onion, and the pancetta strips, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the onion becomes colored a rich gold; then add the carrot, celery, pickles, and capers. Cook, stirring from time to time, for 3 or 4 minutes.
  4. Add the browned beef cubes, salt, and several grindings of black pepper, and turn the meat over two or three times. Add the wine, let it simmer for about 1 minute, then lower the heat to minimum and set a cover slightly ajar over the pan. Cook, occasionally turning the ingredients over, until the meat feels very tender when prodded with a fork, about 1 hour. Serve piping hot.