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, the ultimate comfort meal for any day of the week!
Spezzatino di Manzo is a traditional dish from Italy. The recipe name comes from spezzato (broken) making reference to the meat cut into small cubes.
The dish can be made with various types of meat, like beef, chicken, veal, lamb, or pork. But is beef the most chosen meat and normally uses the less expensive cuts.
Depending on the meat used, the stew 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 lovely 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.
- Beef: For stews like this, I recommend using beef chuck because it has more connective tissue and collagen that will melt into the dish and add a wonderful flavor.
- For soffritto: To make this recipe you will need to prepare some soffritto condiment. This preparation is a staple in Italian cuisine and it consists of carrots, onions, and celery chopped and used to flavor many traditional recipes.
- Potatoes: I used red potatoes, but white or russet potatoes work just fine.
- Wine: Use white wine, but stay away from “cooking wine” as it usually is just cheap wine. You can also leave out this ingredient.
- Olive oil: A key ingredient for many Italian recipes, use extra virgin olive oil if possible.
- Aromatics: Garlic, bay leaves, and pepper.
How To Make Spezzatino Di Manzo
Start by preparing the soffritto condiment, so finely chop the onion, carrot, and celery. You can make this by hand or using a food processor.
In a large cooking pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat and generously season with salt and pepper.
Cook for about 15 minutes while stirring constantly until the meat will be nicely golden.
Add the chopped vegetables and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables become tender and translucent.
Pour over the wine and cook for 5 minutes stirring from time to time.
Pro Tip: Not a fan of cooking with wine? Use a splash of vinegar instead!
Now, add enough water to cover well the beef chunks. Add bay leaves and season with salt.
Bring to a boil, cover the pan, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 and 30 minutes, adding more water if needed.
After that time, stir in the celery sticks and allow to cook for 15 minutes. Then add the potatoes and cook covered for another 15 minutes or until both, potatoes and celery are nicely tender.
Uncover the pan and adjust the seasoning to taste. Allow simmering over high heat until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.
Let the spezzatino di manzo sit for 10 minutes before serving as suggested below.
Notes & Tips
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.
- 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 use less water or stock if you want to end with that scrumptious gravy-like sauce.
How To Serve
You can serve this dish with homemade bread. Or you can also serve it over creamy polenta, just as they do 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.
How To Store And Reheat
Spezzatino di manzo can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
The recipe is a perfect prep meal for those busy days, so you can make a double batch and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
For reheating, allow the stew to slowly thaw in the fridge overnight and then place in a pan with a splash of water to loosen up the sauce. Reheat over medium heat for 5 minutes.
More Italian Stews
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Spezzatino di manzo
- 2.5 lb beef chuck (cut into chunks)
- 1 ½ lb potatoes (cut into chunks)
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 small onion
- 1 medium carrot
- 4 celery sticks (cut into 3-inches pieces)
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- salt and pepper
- Finely chop the carrot, onion, 1 celery stick, and garlic cloves. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a braising pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the meat and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes or until nicely browned.
- Add chopped vegetables and garlic, then sauté for 5 minutes.
- Pour in the wine and cook for 5 more minutes constantly stirring.
- Add water to lightly cover the meat.
- Season with salt, add bay leaves and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 1 and 30 minutes, adding more water if needed.
- Stir in the celery sticks and allow to cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and cook covered for another 15 minutes or until both, potatoes and celery are nicely tender.
- Uncover the pan and adjust the seasonings to taste. Allow simmering over high heat until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.
- Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- 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.
- 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 thanks to the meat and vegetables.
- spezzatino di manzo stew lasts up to 4 days in the fridge stored in an airtight container. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.