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The Medici Beef Stew

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

Lorenzo di Medici - Photo: vic15 on

Today I cooked a Renaissance stew—a truly ancient Italian meat-based course that was served during the Medici’s banquets at their court in Palazzo Pitti.

Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence - Photo: Dimitris Graffin on VisualHunt

All the Medici family really loved red meat and game. Beef was rare, and it was exclusively for rich people—for this reason, they all died from gout disease!

At any rate, this hearty stew melts in your mouth and has the fantastic flavor of Chianti wine.

Chianti loves beef—and I love Chianti! For the best results, I suggest that you use the Gallo Nero type. Remember, to give a delicious kick to your dishes, you can’t use crappy wine. Always a very good quality, because good wine enhances every food.

Another tip for a perfect stew: don’t skip searing the meat. Searing the meat concentrates the flavors, making the beef tender and juicy. Just sear it. Trust me.

Buon appetito!

Medici Beef Stew

1.5 lbs (700 g) beef cut into chunks, stew meat

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

1 onion, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Sage leaves


Extra Virgin olive oil

2 cups red Chianti

2 bay leaves

Salt to taste

1 cup stock

In a hot casserole dish, heat olive oil and bay leaves.

Sear the beef until medium brown. Be careful not to crowd the pan; work in batches if necessary.

Add salt, pepper, garlic and herbs. Add the onion, celery, carrot. Gently saute this"soffritto"until softened.

Add wine and let evaporate.

Add stock, cover, and simmer on low fire for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Cook until fork tender and serve with cannellini beans.


Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), The Grimore, The Magic of the Moon, and Magic Herbs (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).

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