Italian Beef Stew (Spezzatino di Manzo) is the perfect comfort food during those cooler months. Chuck beef is braised until tender in a hearty stew of carrots, celery, mushrooms, and red wine. Herbs like rosemary and bay leaf add additional flavor to this tasty stew that is perfect served with creamy polenta, mashed potatoes, or a chunk of crusty bread!
Some of my favorite smells include freshly brewed coffee, a pot of Sunday sauce simmering on the stove, and spezzatino di manzo aka Italian beef stew.
There is something about the aroma of the beef braising in wine with rosemary that is just so comforting.
Equally comforting is knowing that I'm feeding my family a hearty homecooked meal for under $20.
We are using chuck for our beef stew which is budget-friendly, however, you could lower your cost even more if you use beef stew meat.
That being said, I typically don't recommend using anything labeled "stew meat" as you're not entirely sure what you're getting.
If you buy your own chuck roast and cube it yourself, you'll know exactly what you're working with.
Italian beef stew is wonderful served over creamy polenta or roasted garlic mashed potatoes. We usually also serve with some Italian bread and a glass of vino.
How to make Italian beef stew
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat oven to 300f and make room on the middle rack for a large Dutch oven. Dice 2 celery ribs, 3 medium carrots, and 1 medium onion.
- Cut chuck steak into approximately 1-inch cubes. Note: Any large pieces of fat can be cut out and discarded. I typically just leave most of it for added flavor!
- Heat a large Dutch oven to medium-low heat and coat the pot with a ¼ cup of olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and saute for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes add the mushrooms and continue to cook stirring frequently. Note: In pic 4 above I am using reconstituted dried mushrooms. If using fresh mushrooms, sautee until the mushrooms release their water.
- While the veggies are sauteing, pat the chuck roast cubes dry. Once the mushrooms release their water and most of it has evaporated from the pot, season the beef cubes with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Coat the beef with the veggies and olive oil. Let the beef cook for 5-10 minutes (it won't develop too much color).
- Next, turn heat to medium-high and add 1 cup of dry red wine. Note: Chianti, valpolicella, and cabernet are all good dry red wines to use.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the wine mostly evaporates and absorbs into the beef. Using a wooden spoon scrape up all of the brown bits while the beef is cooking.
- Add 2 cups of low sodium beef stock, 1 tablespoon of rosemary, and 1 bay leaf and stir it all together. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 2 ½ hours or until tender.
- After 2 hours the beef stew will look like this.
- Return the pot to the oven for another 30-60 minutes but leave the lid open a bit as shown below in pic 10. This will help thicken the stew a bit.
- After roughly 2 ½ to 3 hours in the oven, the beef will be very tender. If the stew is still a bit loose make a slurry by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 ounce of water. Place the pot on top of a burner and heat the stew to medium-high. Once the stew bubbles drizzle the cornstarch in and stir.
- The slurry will thicken the beef stew in about 60 seconds. Turn the heat off and taste test. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve over mashed potatoes, polenta, or crusty bread. Enjoy!
Cooking times may vary. Every stove and oven is different, therefore, you may need a longer (or lesser) cooking time than what we've outlined. The best way to determine doneness is the tenderness of the beef. If it is tender, it is ready. If it's still tough, it needs to cook a while longer.
Season at the end. Aside from the salt and pepper you use when initially searing the beef, don't add any additional salt and pepper until the end. Since beef stew cooks for hours, its flavors also concentrate over time and you run the risk of over-salting if you season too early. Give it a taste test at the end and adjust your salt and pepper at that point.
Thicken the stew. I prefer my beef stew to be on the thicker side so I usually make a slurry to help thicken it. A slurry is simply 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 ounce of water. Once mixed, the slurry can be poured into the pot while it's bubbling and stirred for about 1 minute until the stew thickens up. If you want it even thicker just use more cornstarch, but be careful to not over-thicken.
Be creative with sides. I love serving this Italian beef chuck stew over creamy polenta, but it's equally fantastic with mashed potatoes. Another wonderful way to serve it is to buy small individual round boules of bread, scoop out the middle to create a cavity, and serve directly in the bread bowls. My kids love it this way!
More hearty recipes
These recipes are comforting, warm, and perfect for cooler weather, just like our Spezzatino di Manzo!
- Italian wedding soup - Tiny turkey meatballs, acini di pepe, veggies, and spinach combine in this classic beloved soup.
- Short rib ragu - Beef short ribs braised in tomato and red wine and tossed with pappardelle ribbons.
- Italian meatloaf - The classic meatloaf with tomatoes, red wine, and mushrooms.
- Brasato al Barolo - Classic beef dish braised in red wine.
- Maiale al latte - Italian pork shoulder braised in milk with lemons, white wine, herbs, and chili flakes.
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- 2 ½ pounds chuck roast cubed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 medium carrots diced
- 2 large celery ribs diced
- 8 ounces baby Bella mushrooms sliced
- 1 cup dry red wine chianti, valpolicella, carbernet, etc
- 2 cups low sodium beef stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- 1 large bay leaf
For cornstarch slurry (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ounce water
- Preheat oven to 300f and make room on the middle rack for a large Dutch oven. Heat a large Dutch oven to medium-low heat, then add the olive oil, carrots, celery, and onion. Cook for 5 minutes then add the mushrooms, turn heat to medium, and continue to cook stirring frequently.
- While the veggies are sauteing, pat the chuck roast cubes dry. Once the mushrooms release their water and most of it has evaporated from the pot, season the beef cubes with salt and pepper and add to the pot.
- Coat the beef with the veggies and oil. Let the beef cook for 5-10 minutes (it won't develop much color). Next, turn heat to medium-high and add the wine and cook for 5-7 minutes or until it mostly evaporates and absorbs into the beef. Using a wooden spoon scrape up all of the brown bits while the beef is cooking.
- Add the beef stock, rosemary, and bay leaf and stir it all together. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for 2 ½ hours or until tender. For the last 30-45 minutes braise with no lid to thicken the sauce and add a bit of color to the meat.
- Once the beef is tender remove the pot from the oven. If there is too much liquid in the pot use a slurry of cornstarch (see notes) to thicken or cook over medium heat on the stovetop to thicken and reduce the liquid. Once satisfied with the consistency, taste test and make final adjustments to salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread or with polenta or mashed potatoes. Enjoy!
- If you want a thicker sauce use a slurry of cornstarch after braising and right before serving. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 ounce of water. Pour the slurry into the pot while it's bubbling and stir for 1 minute until sauce thickens. For an even thicker sauce use more slurry.
- Dried mushrooms can be easily substituted for fresh mushrooms. They work great for stews like this.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days in the refrigerator and 3 months in the freezer. Reheat in the microwave or over medium-low heat on the stovetop until hot.