While I was eating my squash chili mole I was thinking about what else I could use squash in and I eventually arrived at a beef stew. I had recently made a Japanese style beef stew (nikujaga) using pumpkin so I wanted something a little bit different. I was thinking that an Italian style beef stew would be nice. The first thing I did of course was search the web for recipes and came across this one for a beef and butternut squash stew that sounded like a nice place to start. I felt that an Italian style beef stew would have to contain more tomatoes but I wanted there to be more of a broth than a sauce so I used diced tomatoes with red wine and beef broth to form the base of the stew. To add some more flavour I added some pancetta and browned the beef and sauteed the onions in the pancetta grease instead of olive oil. I like to save the rinds from parmigiano reggiano to throw into sauces to add flavour while simmering and I thought it would work in a broth as well. I wanted to braise the beef until it was nice and tender and since I did not want my squash to be mush I held off on adding it until the meat was almost fully cooked. The Italian style beef stew was a great success! The beef was fall apart in your mouth tender and the squash was nice and al dente; cooked and tender but still having a firm texture. The broth was super flavourful and I did not let any of it go to waste by sopping it up with some cheesy garlic bread .
Italian Style Beef Stew with Butternut Squash
- 2 ounces pancetta (diced)
- 1 pound beef (cut into 1 inch cubes)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon rosemary (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon thyme (chopped)
- 1 cup Italian red wine
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 splash balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- * parmigiano reggiano rind (optional)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes)
- * parsley (chopped)
- Cook the pancetta in a large pan on medium heat.
- Add the beef and brown on all sides in the grease from the pancetta and set aside.
- Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add the wine and deglaze the pan.
- Add the beef, broth, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, parmigiano reggiano rind, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the beef is nice and tender, about 1-2 hours.
- Add the squash and simmer until it is tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Slow Cooker: Implement step 1, optionally implement steps 2-5, place everything except the parsley in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-10 hours or high for 2-4 hours before adding the parsley.