This is fabulous. Really fabulous. There are many beef stew recipes out there and they are much the same - give or take a few baby carrots or cream of something soups. This beef stew recipe abandons tradition in favor of garlic, bacon, mushrooms and wine...lots of wine.
When I ate it, I tasted the smokiness of the bacon first, then the tang of the tomato paste and the background was amok with the piquant rosemary and the earthy mushrooms. The cinnamon really shone in this recipe, there wasn't much but it really rounded out the flavors. Just a small sprinkling of good Parmesan on top really made a difference. The mushrooms and onions slightly melt into the wine and create a mellow, mouthwatering gravy that coats the pasta wonderfully.
This recipe serves 4 - or 2 if you have a husband like mine
6 garlic cloves
2# stewing beef, cut into 2 inch pieces
4 oz. thick bacon cut into strips
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
1# portobello mushrooms
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
2 Tbsp passata (see note)
pinch of ground cinnamon
sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper
1# of large, tubular pasta (I like rigatoni)
Cut three of the garlic cloves into thin strips and insert into the pieces of beef by making little slits with a sharp knife. Push the pieces of bacon into the beef with the garlic. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan, add half the beef and brown well on all sides. Repeat with the remaining beef. Transfer to a plate. Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook until lightly browned. Crush the remaining garlic and add to the onions with the meat.
Stir in the white wine, mushrooms, cinnamon, rosemary and bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer very gently for 3 hours, until the meat is very tender.
Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling, salted water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Lift the pieces of meat out of the gravy and transfer to a warmed serving platter. Drain the pasta and layer in a bowl with the gravy and cheese. Serve with the meat.
note: passata is a cooked tomato concentrate. You may be able to find it in a well stocked Italian supermarket or just substitute tomato paste.