” Lo Spezzatino di Nonna Ida “

When I think of this dish, I can clearly feel the crisp January air of 1975. As I walked in the door after trudging through what seemed like 10 feet of snow,  the aroma of Spezzatino filled the air of our Downsview basement kitchen. When my Nonna ( italian for grandmother) would set the table with ” i piatti cupi” ( deep soup bowls), I knew that our family was having my favourite winter dish. ” Spezzatino.”  Spezzatino or beef stew is best served with warm foccaccia or Calabrese style bread to wipe the bowl clean. Enjoy with a glass of Tuscan red wine and what a meal!!!  Although, when I think back , a tall glass of chocolate milk is what I remember more vividly!  Our spezzatino dinner was usually followed by roasted chestnuts and Hockey Night in Canada (Grandpa was real big Hab fan!!!!) So, go ahead and make this lovely warm and comfy winter dish. Your loved ones will love you even more ! I promise!!!


1 kilo of beef or veal sirloin cubed

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1 large onion chopped

5 carrots peeled and cubed

2 cups celery chopped( use the interior of stalk- much sweeter )

half cup white wine(preferably Dad’s homemade)

1 glass white wine (for sipping while you cook)

1/2  jar pureed tomato or 1 can plum tomato

1 teaspoons of salt( you can surely reduce this amount for sodium reduced diets)

1 tsp sugar

pepper to taste

chili flakes

6 cups water

6 to 8 Potatoes(cubed and if your family loves potatoes go ahead and add a crew more!!!


Sautee onion in medium sized stock pot.

Add sirloin and allow to brown. Add white wine and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery and continue to cook for 10 minutes or so.

Add the white wine and let the alcohol evaporate for approximately 3 minutes. At this point add the tomato puree spices and water. Let cook for 30 minutes uncovered and then add potatoes.

Cover and let the Spezzatinio simmer on medium low heat for approximately 1 and half hours. The result will be a superb  pot of piping hot thick and savoury home made stew!!!!! Sprinkle chill flaked over prepared bowls and serve!!!

You can certainly make this a day ahead and warm thoroughly before serving.

Vegan and Vegetarian Version!!!!

For all my vegan and Vegetarian friends, you can breathe easy !! Yes this incredible recipe has a version that will impress you immensely. By making the following changes, you will create what grandmother called a “Ciambotta!”  Simply omit the meat and make the following substitutions.  Follow the recipe exactly adding:

2 cups of chick peas ( canned and do not strain, the flavour is in the juice.)

a  vegetable cube

2 cup of fresh green beans( flat or string with ends pinched off   (add same time as potatoes)

2 cups of chopped spinach(add approximately 30 minutes prior to completion of cooking process)

Then complete with a sprinkle with freshly grated  Grana Padano Parmiggiano cheese  (sorry vegans you can omit this step) and some chopped parsley. Simply enjoy with your family and friends!!



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