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Beef with Olives, Peppers and Peas

  • 2 pounds lean chuck, cut into 1x1x2-inch pieces
  • 1 ts coarse salt
  • 1/4 ts ground black pepper
  • 1/4 ts nutmeg
  • 1/4 ts cloves
  • 1/4 ts allspice
  • 3 T all-purpose flour
  • 6 T olive oil
  • 2 lg leeks, white parts only, slit, well washed, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 10 sm white mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 2 c unsalted beef stock
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 2 lg green bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 12 black Italian olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 10 ounces pkg frozen peas, thawed
  • 8 ounces can tomato sauce
  • 3 T flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 T yellow cornmeal or semolina flour
  • salt
  • 1 c Fontina cheese, coarsely grated

Yield: 6 Servings. For the bouquet garni: 2 bay leaves, 12 fresh rosemary leaves, and one 2-inch piece orange peel. Wrap in cheesecloth and tie with string. Sprinkle the coarse salt over the pieces of meat. Mix the ground spices, and flour together and work the mixture into the beef pieces. Gently heat the oil in a Dutch oven and slow brown the meat well, in batches. Remove the pieces as they finish browning and set them aside. Add the leeks, garlic, celery, and mushrooms. Saute them for about 5 minutes, tossing them frequently, until they are limp but not browned. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the kettle. Add the browned beef, stock, and the bouquet garni. Cover tightly and simmer over the lowest possible heat for 1-1/2 hours or until the beef is fork tender. Add the bell pepper, olive, peas, tomato sauce, and parsley. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the surface of the stew and whisk it in well to avoid lumps. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni. Salt to taste. Serve hot sprinkled with the grated Fontina. Serve the stew in a nest of polenta, gnocchi, or plain boiled rice. It can be sprinkled with the Fontina and slipped under the broiler on an appropriate dish until the cheese melts and begins to take on color.

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