Spezzatino di manzo is an Italian stew made with beef and potatoes. The dish is cooked slowly for hours to deliver an amazing meal packed with Italian traditional flavors and aromas.
What Is Spezzatino?
The word comes from spezzato (broken) making reference to the meat cut in small cubes, and is a hearty dish popular all over the country.
It can be made with various types of meat, like beef, chicken, veal, lamb, or pork. But is the beef the most chosen meat and normally using the less expensive cuts.
Depending on the meat used, the dish varies its name to di manzo (beef), di pollo (chicken), di vitello (veal), di agnello (lamb), or di maiale (pork).
There are a few ways for making this delicious dish and every Italian house has its own version of the traditional recipe. Some use a little bit of tomato, some others add other types of vegetables like peas or zucchini.
I am making the roman version which is called spezzatino di manzo in bianco. This means the sauce doesn’t contain tomatoes but is still full of hearty flavors.
My mother in law taught me to do this dish many years ago and is one of my favorite Italian dishes, especially in the coldest months of the year.
To make this version you will need to prepare some soffritto first. This preparation is a staple in Italian cuisine and it consists of carrots, onions, and celery chopped and used to flavor many traditional recipes.
If you want to know more about this preparation, I suggest heading over to our soffritto recipe and learning everything you need to know.
Why You Should Make It
- Is an easy recipe with simple ingredients that you can find easily.
- It freezes nicely, so you can make it ahead.
- It is nutritious, comforting, and beyond delicious.
- It is budget-friendly and can feed a crowd.
- Is highly customizable.
How To Make Spezzatino Di Manzo
Season the beef with salt and black pepper and prepare the soffritto by finely chopping onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.
In a large cooking pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pieces of meat and cook for about 15 minutes until lightly browned.
Add chopped vegetables and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and translucent.
Pour in the wine and cook for 4-5 minutes. If you want, you can sub this ingredient with vegetable broth.
Cover the meat with water, season with salt, add bay leaves and bring everything to a boil.
As soon as the stew starts to boil, turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the stew simmer for about 2 hours or until the meat will be nicely tender.
Make sure to check up the stew from time to time to stir a bit and add more water if needed.
Once the stew meat will be done, mix in the potatoes and cook with the pan uncovered until the potatoes are fork-tender and the sauce has become nicely thick, like a gravy.
Adjust with seasonings, turn off the heat, and let the spezzatino di manzo sit for 10 minutes before serving as suggested below.
Recipe Notes And Suggestions
THE MEAT – Choose the right meat. A cheap beef cut is what you need because all the fat, collagen, and connective tissues will melt during the cooking, leaving a wonderful and unique flavor, and providing excellent protein benefits.
SLOW COOKING – Spezzatino is meant to be a slow-cooking dish. There’s no way around it. Yes, you can accelerate the cooking time by using an Instant Pot but somehow I find the dish more delicious when is cooked slowly. An option would be a slow cooker pot and that’s what I normally use when I don’t have the time to be in the kitchen for 2-3 hours.
KEEP IT SIMPLE – Italian cooking is all about simple flavors, so I honestly don’t see the need of adding beef stock (like some recipes call for). The dish has a lot of flavor on its own. The garlic, carrots, onions, and celery adds all flavor you need. So does the meat. But if you can’t help, go ahead and add beef stock, just pay attention to salt.
How To Serve
You can serve this dish with a loaf of bread, especially if it is homemade. Or you can also serve it over creamy polenta, just as in northern Italy.
My mother in law used to serve the meat separately with the potatoes as a side dish and used the sauce as a condiment for pasta fresca. This way she will have a primo (first dish) and secondo (main dish) from one single recipe.
Last, the scrumptious sauce of this dish makes it perfect to serve over rice, quinoa, your favorite noodles, or a bowl of cauliflower rice.
- Tomato. Add 1 1/2 cups of tomato puree or a few tablespoons of tomato paste for the red version of beef spezzatino.
- Vegetables. Some recipe versions will include peas, carrot and celery chunks, cauliflower, and even mushrooms.
- Herbs. Mix in other types of herbs like thyme or marjoram.
- Chicken. Sub beef with chicken, use thighs or chicken breasts, but make sure to adjust the time of cooking and also use less water or stock if you want to end with that scrumptious gravy-like sauce.
How To Store And Reheat
This Italian beef stew is one of my favorite prep meals and I make it over and over because it freezes wonderfully. So here are my recommendations for storing and reheating it like a pro:
- Fridge: Place leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezer. Make a double batch of this recipe, divide it into bags or proper containers, and store for up to 3 months. Don’t forget to label the containers with the date you made the stew.
- Reheat. With a splash of water to loosen up the sauce, you can use the microwave at 1-minute intervals or the stovetop over medium heat.
More Italian Stews
- Chicken Cacciatora – A classic Italian dish with chicken, olives, and herbs. All simmered in a delicious tomato sauce.
- Stracotto – This Roman-Jewish main dish is all about slow cooking. Serve with Challah bread or over rigatoni pasta.
- Coda alla vaccinara – A slow-cooked stew made with beef’s oxtail braised in a tomato sauce and spices.
- Chicken Romana – Get ready for this amazing Mediterranean chicken with bell peppers.
spezzatino di Manzo
- 2.5 lb beef stew meat (cut into chunks)
- 1 ½ lb potatoes (cut into chunks)
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium carrot
- 2 celery sticks
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- salt and pepper
- Finely chop the carrot, onion, celery stick, and garlic cloves. Set aside.
- Season the meat with salt and pepper.
- In a large cooking pan heat the oil over high heat.
- Add meat and cook for about 15 minutes until lightly browned.
- Add vegetables and garlic, then sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Pour in the wine and cook for 5 more minutes constantly stirring.
- Add water to cover the meat with water.
- Season with salt, add bay leaves, and then bring to a boil.
- Loosely cover the pan and let the spezzatino simmer at medium-low heat for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender, checking from time to time and adding more water if needed.
- Mix in the potatoes and cook with the pan uncovered until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has become very thick, like a gravy.
- Adjust seasonings, turn off the heat, and let the spezzatino sit for 10 minutes before serving.
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