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Stracotto di Manzo alla Fiorentina - Slow Cooked Beef Florence style

This recipe comes from Carmelita Caruana. Carmelita is just passionate about food, about the scents and flavours of food, about the pleasures of cooking and of eating in convivial company, about the use of the best possible ingredients in order to maximise those pleasures.

She believes everyone can learn to cook. She also believes that to cook well you need first to be greedy, and then you need a little patience and a lot of passion!

She started Cook Italy which organises cooking holidays in Italy in 1999 and though relatively new to the field, she is already having great success, travelling internationally to give talks and to run cooking classes. She appeared as guest chef on BBC 2 's Saturday Kitchen last year, cooking a Sicilian menu, and plans to be running occasional evening cookery classes in London. Her cook book is on the way!


1 kilo stewing beef, ideally tied up with string
1 leek
1 onion
2 carrots
1 stick of celery
3 cloves garlic (optional), green centre removed and cut into slivers
500gs of peeled ripe red tomatoes (or 2 cans peeled plum tomatoes)
a glass of robust red wine
olive oil
stock or just water to thin down the sauce from time to time
salt and pepper


  • Chop all the vegetables as finely as you can
  • Optional : With a pointed sharp knife make incisions in the beef and insert a sliver of garlic in each incision
  • Seal the beef on all sides in olive oil and cook gently on top of the stove for 20 minutes, turning from time to time, so it is browned all round
  • At the same time, separately sweat and "melt" the vegetables very slowly for 20 minutes.
  • Salt after a few minutes to release their juices and later add stock or water as they must simmer rather than fry
  • After twenty minutes place the beef on top of the vegetables, spooning some vegetables on top, and add the wine.
  • Allow it to evaporate completely then add the tomatoes and start simmering the beef slowly for 3 hours or more
  • Keep an eye on the beef and occasionally turn the meat and add some stock or water, and spoon the vegetables over the top also every time you turn it
  • The meat should be fork tender, the Italian name means "extra cooked beef".
  • Remove the meat from the sauce and reduce it if necessary, remove string from meat, slice thickly, return to the pot, grind black pepper over it and serve


  • Sometimes add a little cinnamon and a couple of sweet cloves, just the crumbled heads, not the little stems. Or maybe ground fennel seeds, or a even a little Vin Santo, for a little extra touch

Serves 4

Carmelita Caruana