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Beef stew gets the Sicilian treatment with the addition of red wine and olives from the southern region of Italy, plus fragrant herbs and citrus peel. 

"Served here with polenta, this meal is equally lovely with garlicky mashed potatoes or crusty bread for mopping," Rach says. 


  • 3 pounds beef chuck, pat dry and cut into 2 to 2 ½-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or neutral oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 bulbs fennel, quartered, cored and cut into large pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushes
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • One 3-inch curl orange peel
  • One 3-inch curl lemon peel
  • 3 to 4 sprigs rosemary, stripped and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sundried tomato paste or tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cup Nero d’Avola (Sicilian red), or other red wine of choice, medium to full body
  • 2 cups beef bone broth or stock
  • ¾ cup loosely packed semi-dried tomatoes (or sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped)
  • 1 cup whole pitted green Sicilian olives (such as Castelvetrano or Sant’ Agostino)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes (half a palmful), or 1 tablespoon Calabrian chili paste
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
  • A few sprigs thyme, stripped and chopped


Serves: 6


For the beef stew, bring meat to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Preheat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and oven to 300˚F with racks in lower third and upper third of oven.

Pat meat dry and season with salt and pepper. Add about 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, 1 turn of the pan, melt about a tablespoon of butter into oil, and when it foams, add about ⅓ of the meat. Brown evenly on all sides and remove, then repeat with more oil and butter as needed, removing meat to platter or tray as you work. Add remaining oil and butter, and when butter foams, add the onions, fennel, garlic, bay, citrus and rosemary, then partially cover and soften about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir, add wine and reduce 2-3 minutes. Add the beef, stock, semi-dried or sundried tomatoes, olives and chili flakes or paste. Cover and place in oven for about 2 hours until very tender.

Arrange the tomatoes on a small baking sheet, dress with EVOO, thyme, salt and pepper and slow roast them along with the meat.  

Serve beef on platter topped with tomatoes or in shallow bowls atop polenta or garlicky mashed potatoes.