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Pappardelle with Beef Ragù and Chestnuts

OK, now if this pasta dish has you drooling, let me tell you it’s really easy to make and so delicious you’ll be eating seconds and thirds and fending off marriage proposals from anyone who tries it. Of course, that assumes you make your own pappardelle, following the instructions here. But if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own pasta and instead buy a good quality pappardelle, and serve this ragù as the accompaniment, you’re still likely to have suitors filling up your dance card after they fill their stomachs.

It all starts with that beef stew I recently posted. I asked you to put some aside in the freezer for a reason (before adding the peas and carrots.)

When you defrost it, add a 1/2 can of Italian cherry tomatoes with the juices. It’s not the same with fresh cherry tomatoes, so make sure you buy the canned ones. If it’s hard to find canned cherry tomatoes where you live, you can buy them online at many places, including here. By the way, I have no financial interest in this brand or any other, so choose whatever brand you like.

 

 

After you’ve added the tomatoes, some wine, chestnuts and a little seasoning, let everything simmer for another 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to blend the flavors. You’ll get a thick and flavorful ragù that is just begging for some pasta to keep it company.

I was lucky to find fresh chestnuts from Italy in the produce section at my local grocery store. You’ll see plenty of sealed bags of chestnuts on the shelves that are already peeled and cooked, but they come from China, and I’m leery of the quality control, so I always seek out the Italian ones. The fresh ones are not that hard to cook and clean. Just cut a slit or make a cross cut in each chestnut; place them in a pan with cold water; let it come to a boil; boil for two or three minutes, then drain the water and roast the chestnuts in a 425 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. They should be fully cooked by then. It’s easier to peel them when they’re hot, and some of the skins will peel off easily. Others are a little more resistant, but for this recipe it doesn’t matter if the chestnuts come off in one piece. You’ll be breaking them up to put in the sauce anyway. (But munch a few with a good glass of wine while you’re peeling them too!)

Get the pasta water boiling (“Butta la pasta,” as we say in Italian) and add the pappardelle, then toss the pasta with the sauce.

My mouth is watering just looking at this dish. By the way, you can freeze any of those chestnuts if you’ve cooked more than you need for this recipe. With chestnut season so short, you’ll be glad you did. As the dish below says, take your photo first, then dig in.

Click here to connect with me on Instagram and find out what’s cooking in Ciao Chow Linda’s kitchen each day (and more)

Pappardelle with Beef Ragù and Chestnuts
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups leftover beef stew (without carrots or peas or potatoes - just the meat and the sauce)
  • 1 cup canned cherry tomatoes with the juice (1/2 of a 14 oz. can)
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon of finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup cooked chestnuts, broken into pieces
  • pappardelle (about 1 lb.)
Instructions
  1. Take the leftover beef stew, and cut, or shred the chunks of beef into small pieces.
  2. Place the beef in a saucepan with the canned cherry tomatoes, the wine, the chestnuts and the rosemary and let it all simmer for about ½ hour to 45 minutes.
  3. Boil the pasta until it is cooked and toss gently with the sauce.
 

 

Beef Stew with Oven Baked Polenta

Although we’ve had warm, nearly 80-degree days here in New Jersey recently, it’s most unusual for this time of year. Cold weather in November is as predictable as election results on the first Tuesday of the month (oh wait………. well, let’s not go there).

And when the down comforter comes out, and the fireplace kicks in, so does my need for comfort food. One of my favorite meals to make (and eat) when the temperature drops, is this beef stew. You may like potatoes in your beef stew, and if so, feel free to add them. But I prefer mine served over creamy, cheesy, soft polenta. And this polenta doesn’t require stirring over a stove for an hour since you make it in the oven, stirring only once every twenty minutes. If you prefer, you can also serve the stew over mashed potatoes, buttered noodles or rice.

Another reason I omit potatoes from beef stew (aside from the fact that reheated potatoes never taste that good) is because I like to set aside some of the beef stew (before the addition of peas and carrots) to use in another recipe, one that I’ll write about in an upcoming blog post. Without divulging that recipe right now, suffice it to say that it’s worth making this beef stew just to have the leftovers. I know you’ll thank me for it later. For now, the beef stew and polenta is pretty darn comforting too.

Click here to connect with me on Instagram and find out what’s cooking in Ciao Chow Linda’s kitchen each day (and more)

Beef Stew with Oven Baked Polenta
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BEEF STEW:
  • 2½ - 3 lbs beef cubes
  • flour for dusting
  • salt and pepper to season the meat
  • ¼ cup olive oil, or more as needed to brown the cubes
  • one large onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup canned cherry tomatoes, (or crushed tomatoes if you can't find the cherry tomatoes)
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 T. minced fresh sage
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 or 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 squirt of "kitchen bouquet" (if you can find it - it helps make everything a richer brown color)
  • FOR THE OVEN BAKED POLENTA:
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. If the beef cubes are large, cut them into smaller pieces, about ½" to ¾."
  2. Dust the cubes with flour, salt and pepper.
  3. Saute the cubes in the olive oil, in one layer, repeating as necessary, and turning on each side until browned,
  4. Remove the beef cubes from the pot, add more olive oil, if needed, and cook the onions over low heat until translucent.
  5. Add the garlic cloves and cook for another couple of minutes
  6. Put the beef cubes back into the pan, and pour in the red wine.
  7. Let it cook for a minute, then add the canned tomatoes, beef broth and water, and season with salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary and sage.
  8. Place the lid on the pot and place in the oven at 325 degrees for 2 - 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  9. Place the frozen peas in the pot about ½ hour before removing it from oven.
  10. Boil the sliced carrots in water and when nearly done, remove the carrots from the water and add to the beef stew in the oven, stirring to blend everything,
  11. If you can find "Kitchen Bouquet," add about 1 teaspoon to the pot.
  12. It will give it a rich, brown color.
  13. If the liquid in the beef stew is not thick enough, remove the cover, and cook on top of the stove for a bit, until some of the liquid has evaporated and thickened.
  14. Serve over polenta, noodles or mashed potatoes.
  15. FOR THE POLENTA:
  16. Whisk together the cornmeal, milk, water and salt.
  17. Place in the oven, uncovered, with the beef stew during its last hour of cooking.
  18. Whisk or sttir every 20 minutes.
  19. If it looks like it needs more liquid, add more water or milk.
  20. After an hour, it should be thickened enough. It will thicken some more when you add the cheese.
  21. If it's still not thickened enough, return to the oven for another 20 minutes,
  22. Add the butter and stir.
  23. Remove from the heat, and stir in the parmesan cheese.
  24. Serve with the beef stew.
 

Lidia Bastianich – Beef in Sguazet (Beef Stew)

Spring may be just around the corner, but we’ve still got a few days left in February, and if March is anything like last year, when we were socked with three major snowstorms, then there’s still plenty of time to make warm, stick-to-the-ribs comfort food, like this recipe from Lidia Bastianich.

Who doesn’t know Lidia, who has written numerous cookbooks and children’s books; whose show on public television has captivated us for years; whose restaurants in New York, Kansas City and Pittsburgh are magnets for lovers of good Italian food; whose food emporium in New York – EATALY – is chock full of any kind of Italian product you could wish for; and Lidia – whose journey as an immigrant to the United States is explained in her heartfelt memoir, “My American Dream”?

Image result for lidia bastianich my american dream

Fans of Lidia in the Princeton, N.J. area were treated to an afternoon with her yesterday, when she agreed to speak at the Italian cultural organization where I’m a board member – Dorothea’s House.

The house was founded more than 100 years ago by the father and husband of Dorothea Van Dyke McLane, a well-to-do Princetonian who ministered to the needs of recent Italian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. Sadly, Dorothea died during childbirth at age 24, along with her baby daughter. Today Dorothea’s House is a vibrant Italian cultural center, offering Italian language classes for adults and children, monthly programs on Italian topics, an Italian movie series, and scholarships for high school students.

Dorothea's House Exterior

During the afternoon, Lidia spoke to a packed crowd about her early life in Pula, a town in the Istria peninsula that was once part of Italy but was annexed to Yugoslavia after World War II, and now is part of Croatia. The audience listened with rapt attention as she spoke of details about her journey to a new country and consequent life in the U.S., including her rise to success in the restaurant business.

Lidia, whose family fled Communist Yugoslavia, arrived in the United States at twelve years old, after having been interned for two years in a refugee camp in Trieste, Italy. Thanks to Catholic Charities, her family settled in the U.S., where she was able to eventually realize her American dream. She is involved in many philanthropic causes, and agreed to return to Dorothea’s House (she last spoke here in 2003) as a benefit for our scholarship fund.

Lidia exudes warmth and a genuine interest in people, which in turn endears her to anyone who meets her. She was gracious enough to sign books for everyone there, including my granddaughter Aurelia.

Lidia will be doing a book tour to promote her memoir, and if she comes to a city near you, don’t miss the chance to meet her in person. Click here to read about her upcoming appearances.

If you can’t make it to see her in person, there are always her cookbooks to inspire you. This recipe comes from one of her earliest cookbooks, “La Cucina Di Lidia.” For this dish, which is reminiscent of the food of her childhood, Lidia says that paprika and/or sour cream were also added sometimes, a nod to the Eastern European influence of her birthplace. I used bone marrow here, as called for in the recipe, but the dish is delicious even without it. Serve it over polenta as I did, or noodles, or rice.

Click here to find out what’s cooking in Ciao Chow Linda’s kitchen each day (and more).

Lidia Bastianich - Beef in Sguazet (Beef Stew)
 
A hearty stew that marries well with polenta, pasta or risotto,
Author:
Cuisine: Italian/Istrian
Serves: serves 8
Ingredients
  • ½ ounce (about 6 pieces) dried porcini mushrooms
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, minced
  • 2 beef marrow bones
  • 3½ pounds stewing beef, cut into 1" cubes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • ¼ tsp. salt (I added ¾ tsp.)
  • 1 cup dry red wine, Chianti or Barolo
  • 4 tsps. tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • (Lidia also says that in her childhood, paprika and sour cream were sometimes added to this stew, so I added 1½ tsp. sweet paprika, ½ tsp. hot paprika and a good grinding of black pepper)
Instructions
  1. Soften the dried porcini about 30 minutes in a cupful of warm water, trim, and reserve the strained liquid.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat, until transparent.
  3. Add the bones, meat, bay leaves, cloves, salt, pepper and paprika, and sauté 10 minutes longer.
  4. Add the wine, raise the heat, and cook about 10 minutes, until the wine has reduced by half.
  5. Add the tomato paste and the porcini.
  6. Stir slowly and thoroughly, and add the reserved mushroom liquid.
  7. Simmer five minutes.
  8. Add half the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the sauce thickens, about two hours.
  9. As the mixture cooks, add the remaining stock little by little.
  10. When the sguazet is finished, there should be about 6 cups of thick, chunky sauce.
  11. Serve with pasta, polenta or rice.
 

 

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Stracotto di Manzo or Italian Pot Roast

When the temperature dips to 5 degrees fahrenheit and snow blankets the ground like a down comforter, many of us seek solace in the kitchen with winter comfort foods. Foods that we wouldn’t dream of cooking in July seem perfect for combatting January’s frigid days – foods like this pot roast from Domenica Marchetti’s book, “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy.”

I love all of Domenica’s cookbooks, including her latest, “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy,” so deciding on a recipe for dinner wasn’t easy.
This one comes from Domenica’s mother Gabriella, a delightful woman who contributed much to Domenica’s love of cooking and the food of Abruzzo in particular. It’s a recipe that evokes Domenica’s childhood and turned the humble dish into a special occasion meal. Last night, as snow fell and the landscape turned white, I decided I needed a special occasion meal too.
 I hadn’t made a pot roast in years and picked up this large chuck roast at the supermarket earlier in the day. If you buy a piece with heavy veins of fat, as this one, you could carve some of it out before cooking, or do as I did and skim the fat from the liquid once it finishes cooking.
Season the meat with salt and pepper, then sear it on all sides, a process that takes four to five minutes.
 The vegetables (celery, onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes) and seasonings are added to the pot, along with some wine and broth, then the oven does the work for the next two and a half hours.
What emerges is a flavorful, cut-it-with-a-fork tender pot roast that will leave you wishing for even more snowy days when you can hunker indoors with a hearty meal.
 Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles, polenta or whatever starch you prefer. My side dishes were farro with peas, and steamed butternut squash. The sauce from the roast is still quite chunky, but you could puree it with a stick blender if you prefer a smoother version. Consider setting some aside and adding it to some freshly cooked pasta as a first course.

 

Stracotto di Manzo Alla Gabriella
From “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy”
by Domenica Marchetti

printable recipe here

 

  • 1 boneless chuck roast, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with the flat side of a knife blade
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup passato di pomodoro (tomato puree) or canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth (homemade is best), or water
  • Instructions
    Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper. In ad Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and begins to sizzle place the roast in the pot. Brown it on all sides, turning it every 3 to 4 minutes, for even coloring. Using tongs, transfer the meat to a plate.
    Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the onion is pale gold but not browned. Stir in the thyme, followed by the wine, tomatoes, and the broth. Return the meat to the pot along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Let the pot roast braise, turning the meat every 30 minutes, for about 2 1/2 hours or until it is fork tender and the sauce is deliciously thick and red-brown.
    Remove the meat from the sauce and either cut it into thin slices or large chunks. Arrange the meat on a serving platter and spoon the sauce on top.