The origins of this dish are still being debated. One version has the recipe dating all the way back to the 15th century, when the construction of the Santa Maria del Fiore Dome was underway in Renaissance Florence, under the careful watch of architect and genius Filippo Brunelleschi.
Ever concerned about what to do for lunch, the workers handling the placement of the Dome's rooftop tiles had the brilliant idea of using the ovens where the tiles were baked to also prepare this tasty meat dish.
Another version has terracotta workers wives in Impruneta making the dish to provide hearty, nutritious meals for the workers toiling in the terracotta factories. Whatever its origins, we do know that the dish is still very popular in today's Tuscany. Contrary to the name (which translates literally into very spicy), the modern version is not typically brimming with spice. Why don't you give this traditional Tuscan recipe a shot and see how it works with your modern-day workers in your own home?!
Prepare the Impruneta-style Tuscan beef stew
Coarsely cube beef and place into medium metal-bottomed soup pot.
Add remaining stew ingredients, bring to boil.
Lower heat to medium-low, and allow to simmer for at least 3 hours or until meat is softened nicely. If stew begins to look dry, add either room temperature water or vegetable broth.
Prepare the creamy Polenta base
Bring water to boil in medium sauce pot. While water is boiling, thoroughly clean and rinse dried Porcini mushrooms, set aside. Peel and finely mince garlic, set aside. Coarsely mince parsley, set aside.
Add cleaned mushrooms, and allow to soak at least 30 minutes. Remove from water, drain well. When softened, coarsely chop mushrooms, set aside.
Bring water back to boil, add salt, and very slowly add in polenta (cornmeal, be sure it's not precooked variety), stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Allow polenta to continue cooking over low heat for at least 1 hour.
In medium sauté pan, coat bottom with extra-virgin olive oil. When heated, add garlic and parsley. Stir for 30 seconds, add porcini mushrooms and allow flavors to blend for a few moments. Once cooked through, add to cooked polenta.
Finish assembling the dish and serve
On serving plate, place generous portion of warm polenta and top with serving of beef stew.
Garnish with drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.
90 minutes 19 ingredients 408 kCal