The way grandma used to make it: soft, intensely flavoured and juicy. Eating beef stew is like opening the box of memories, amid heady scents, the oven burning for hours, jealously guarded secret recipes.
A lengthy preparation that requires patience and whets the appetite, great attention to the quality of the meat that must melt in the mouth like butter, a tasty sauce that calls for polenta or mashed potatoes for a mouth-watering finale.
Andrea chose to add the fresh touch of gremolada, the traditional Milanese condiment of parsley and lemon zest, to make this extraordinary dish, which warms the table and the heart, even tastier.
Trim the meat, cut it into pieces and let it marinate for at least one night with chopped onion and celery, crushed garlic, half of the herbs, juniper berries, crushed peppercorns and cloves, all covered with red wine.
The next day drain and dry the meat with a cloth, add salt, pepper and oil. In a hot pan, sear the meat by turning it well until all sides are roasted and coloured.
Clean, wash and peel the remaining onion, celery and carrot and cut them into small pieces. Fry for a few minutes in the same saucepan as the meat and add the drained marinated vegetables, stirring frequently until they are golden brown; deglaze with two generous ladlefuls of the marinade wine, allowing the alcohol to evaporate.
Prepare a bouquet with the remaining herbs and add it together with the tomato puree and meat: mix well, cover the pan and bake in a ventilated oven at 150 degrees for four hours, checking occasionally if water needs to be added.
At the end of the cooking time, uncover the pan, dry it over the heat until the desired consistency of the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Prepare a mixture of lemon zest and parsley and add it to the meat, stirring, before serving.
A copper pot is traditionally used to make polenta. Bring 2 litres of salted water to the boil, pour in the yellow flour and stir with a whisk until it comes to the boil and starts to thicken. Lower the flame, cover and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally, allowing the polenta to simmer; if it becomes too firm, add a little boiling water and adjust the salt if necessary.
Serve the stew with all its sauce in a large serving dish on a bed of polenta and some more chopped parsley and lemon.