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Tyrolean beef stew

This classic stew from the Trentino-Alto Adige or South Tyrol region of northern Italy is slow cooked with onions, cumin and paprika – its distinct central European flavour is influenced by neighbouring Austria. The gradual addition of stock gives this stew a gentle flavour; pancetta is added, so be careful not to make your stock too salty. This dish is traditionally served with runny polenta (cornmeal). It is also delicious with a piece of good country bread whose soft part is removed, cubed and toasted; the goulash is served in the bread crust and the toasted bits sprinkled on top – a dish fit for an Austrian king!


Make it yourself 

4 x servings



  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 100g/3½oz pancetta, cubed
  • about 1 litre/1¾ pints/4 cups hot vegetable stock – or use a stock cube
  • 1kg/2lb 4oz stewing beef, cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • polenta (cornmeal) or toasted country bread, to serve


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sweat the onions on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring all the time to prevent sticking, until softened. Remove and set aside.
  2. Add the pancetta to the pan and cook on a medium heat until coloured but not burnt. Remove from the pan and set aside. Return the onions to the pan, add about 3 tablespoons of stock and cook for a minute or so until the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add the beef, increase the heat and brown the meat all over. Add 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup of stock, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook very gently for 30 minutes, then add another 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup of stock and continue to cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic, cumin, paprika, thyme and pancetta. Add 400ml/14fl oz/1⅔ cups of stock, cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for a further 1 hour, gradually adding more stock and stirring from time to time to ensure the meat doesn’t stick.
  5. Remove from the heat and serve with toasted country bread or runny polenta.

For a slow cooker:

  1. Cook the onions, pancetta and beef as above. Once the beef is browned add 750ml/11/4 pints/3 cups stock, the garlic, cumin, paprika, thyme and pancetta. Bring to the boil, stirring, then transfer to a large slow cooker pot, press the meat beneath the liquid, cover and cook on Low for 8–9 hours.