Slow Cooked Family Stew with Polenta

On Saturday, February 1st, 2014

The polenta is spread onto a large board with a mound of stew in the middle. People sit around the table, armed with forks, and tuck in – it’s a really sociable meal.

  • Less than 30 mins preparation time

  • 1 to 2 hours cooking time

  • Serves 10


For the stew
  • 100ml/3½fl oz olive oil
  • 4 celery stalks, very finely diced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, very finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2.25kg/5lb mixed meat such as pork, lamb, rabbit or wild boar, chopped into small pieces
  • 200ml/7fl oz red wine
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp rosemary needles
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.5kg/3lb 5oz chopped tomatoes, or chunky passata
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the polenta
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 600g/1lb 5oz quick-cook polenta
  • 250g/9oz fontina cheese (or taleggio), freshly grated
  • 100g/3½oz parmesan, freshly grated
  • 100g/3½oz unsalted butter

Preparation method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the vegetables and garlic for 6-7 minutes, or until softened.
  2. Add the pieces of meat and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until browned on all sides.
  3. Pour in the wine, bring to the boil, then lower the heat until the mixture is simmering.
  4. Add the juniper berries, peppercorns, sage, rosemary, bay and chopped tomatoes and cook for 5-6 minutes, then add the nutmeg and the tomato purée.
  5. Continue to cook, uncovered, for a further hour, or until the meat is tender. Season, to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Meanwhile for the polenta, cook the salt and polenta in 3 litres/5¼ pints boiling water, stirring continuously for 5-6 minutes (take care as the mixture may bubble and spit).
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheeses and butter. Keep warm.
  8. To serve, spread the polenta on to a large, clean board, making a well in the middle, then pour the stew into the middle.
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