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Catalan Style Beef Stew

(Estofado a la Catalana)

Written By: Byron | April 2, 2024
A large pot of catalan style beef stew sits beside a plate serving

Catalan style beef Stew (Estofado a la Catalana) is a classic beef stew recipe that draws roots from the Catalan region of Spain, where cinnamon and nutmeg are commonly used in Catalan cuisine. 

This is the perfect stew to make in the cooler months, leaving the stew to bubble away on the stovetop for a period of hours. The longer the better, as the meat will soften and become more tender with more time and a low heat. 

For this recipe, the beef chunk is slowly cooked over two hours with a selection of herbs and spices, red wine, and beef broth. The ‘Catalan-style reference is due to the use of a little cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate, adding a sweetness to the stew. The stew is also enhanced with the rich meat and oil from a butfiarra sausage (or a few Italian-style sausages if you prefer). 

This recipe is inspired by the fantastic beef stew recipe by Penelope Casas, found on page 226 in her cookbook, 1000 Spanish Recipes.

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Serving:

Main for 4

Ready in:

3 hours, 15 minutes

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Mashed potato

Watch step-by-step recipe video

If you’re looking for this recipe’s video and many other great recipe ideas, why not check out our Spanish Radish YouTube Channel? We’ve got everything from quick and easy tapas recipes to delicious main meals, to incredible Spanish dessert options too.

How to Make Catalan Style Beef Stew (Estofado a la Catalana)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs. (900 grams) chuck steak (filete de aguja)
  • 0.5 lbs. (230 grams) pancetta (or thick-cut bacon)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup beef broth (or water)
  • 0.4 lbs. (200g) button mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 large Butifarra sausage (around 150 grams/ 5oz.) 

Serving Suggestions: 

  • Green beans
  • Mashed potato

Equipment needed

    • Large skillet or pan
    • Medium skillet or pan
    • Pan for boiling potatoes
    • Potato masher (optional)
Chuck steak, butifarra sausage, pancetta and vegetables sit on a counter top.

Method

  • In a deep earthenware dish, add the oil and pancetta and fry on low heat until the bacon is transparent and releases its oil (around 3-4 minutes). 
  • Add the beef and increase the heat to medium, and cook until beef is browned on all sides (around 5 minutes). 
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is golden (around 5 minutes).
  • Stir in the flour, then add the wine, parsley, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, beef broth, salt, and pepper. 
  • Reduce the heat to low then simmer for 3 hours or until the beef is tender. If using, add the mushrooms around half way through. Add mushroooms around the 2-hour mark. 
  • Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a small saucepan with some cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain off any excess water and add to the casserole dish along with the chocolate, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
  • Continue cooking for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender. 
  • Cut the sausage into 1-inch pieces then cook In a medium skillet on medium heat until golden (around 5 minutes). Add to stew right before serving. 
  • Remove the bay leaf from the stew. Divide stew into bowls and serve piping hot with mashed potatoes or steamed white rice and steamed green beans.

Cooking Tips:

Cook slow and low: The best way to avoid toughening the meat during the stewing process is to ensure you use a very low simmer and cook for long periods. The original recipe suggests 2 hours, although we opt for around 3 hours on a very low simmer. If you see your stew bubbling away too much, reduce the heat. Aim for just a bubble or two at a time. 

Stir frequently: Stir the stew every 10-15 minutes. This ensures the meat and other ingredients stew evenly. 

Best pots and pans to use: Be sure to use a deep dish or pot that is large enough. It will need to be at least 10-12 inches (25-30cm) in diameter and 4 inches (10cm) deep. Seasoned Cast Iron Pans are ideal for this type of cooking, as they are naturally non-stick and retain the heat evenly around the pan.

Best Beef to Use for Beef Stew

Chuck steak is most commonly used for beef stew recipes. Chuck steak, also known as gravy beef (known as filete de aguja in Spanish) comes from the forequarter of the animal consisting of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm. This meat has a high concentration of collagen-rich connective tissues and some fat marbling making it ideal for stewing.

How to avoid dry, chewy stewed beef

Slow and low is the foodie mantra when it comes to any meat stews, and this Catalan-Style Beef Stew is no exception. The best way to get great results is to allow the beef to slowly simmer away over a period of hours. While 2 hours is fine, 3 hours is better. Our rule of thumb is you want the beef chunks to be as tender as possible, so they almost fall apart when picked up with a fork. 

Ingredients and Substitutions

Beef: Use chuck steak (filete de aguja) for best results. 

Pancetta: Fresh pancetta that is around half an inch thick (1cm) is ideal for lining the dish with plenty of oil. Speak to your local butcher for good pancetta, or check the chilled meat section of any supermarket. If you cant source Pancetta, thick-cut bacon also works well. 

Butifarra Sausage: Butifarra is a thick white pork sausage that is a prized charcuterie product of Catalan cuisine. The sausage is made using free-range pork and is flavored with sea salt and good-quality ground black pepper. Butifarra is difficult to source outside of Catalonia, so the original recipe suggests using Italian-style sausage instead. 

Discover cuisine, produce, recipes, and more with our Catalonia Regional Foodie Guide

Seasoning and Spices: Beef stew relies on good quality ingredients and a small selection of spices to flavor the dish. The recipe is Catalan style as it uses nutmeg and cinnamon to add a subtle sweetness to the dish. 

Note: The original recipe calls for oregano and thyme, however, we’ve omitted the thyme and kept the oregano amount the same. All other spices and herbs, we kept in the same quantities as the original recipe. 

Dark Chocolate: Chocolate is another ingredient that is popular in beef stew recipes. It adds a level of depth and sweetness while maintaining the richness in flavors from the beef and other meats used. The original recipe by Penelope Casas suggests only ½ a teaspoon of grated dark chocolate, however, we opted for a large tablespoon worth and it added a lovely sweetness without overpowering any of the other flavors. 

Red wine: No need to use a top-shelf bottle, dry red cooking wine works great for softening up the beef during stewing (we used a EUR 3 bottle of Crianza). The alcohol content of the wine completely evaporates during cooking. 

A plate of Catalan style beef stew with some mashed potato.

Storage and Reheating

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Beef stew freezes well and will last up to 3 months when frozen. 

To thaw or reheat, thaw from frozen in the fridge and gently reheat in a pan or skillet on the stovetop over low heat. Do not thaw or reheat in the microwave, as it will dry out the stew.

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 4

Amount per serving

 

Calories

648

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 35.3g

45%

Saturated Fat 11.3g

56%

Cholesterol 107mg

36%

Sodium 841mg

37%

Total Carbohydrate 46.2g

17%

Dietary Fiber 4.6g

16%

Total Sugars 4.7g

 

Protein 36.5g

 

Vitamin D 189mcg

945%

Calcium 214mg

16%

Iron 8mg

42%

Potassium 989mg

21%

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

A plate of Catalan style beef stew with some mashed potato.
A large pot of catalan style beef stew sits beside a plate serving

Catalan Style Beef Stew (Estofado a la Catalana)

Byron
Catalan style beef Stew (Estofado a la Catalana) is a classic beef stew recipe that draws roots from the Catalan region of Spain, where cinnamon and nutmeg are commonly used in Catalan cuisine.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Course dinner, Main Course, meat
Cuisine American, Catalonia, Mediterranean, Spain
Servings 4 Main meal
Calories 648 kcal

Equipment

  • Large skillet or pan
  • Medium skillet or pan
  • Pan for boiling potatoes
  • Potato masher (optional)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs. 900 grams chuck steak (filete de aguja)
  • 0.5 lbs. 230 grams pancetta (or thick-cut bacon)
  • 1 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup beef broth or water
  • 0.4 lbs. 200g button mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 large Butifarra sausage around 150 grams/ 5oz.

Instructions
 

  • In a deep earthenware dish, add the oil and pancetta and fry on low heat until the bacon is transparent and releases its oil (around 3-4 minutes).
    0.5 lbs. 230 grams pancetta (or thick-cut bacon)
  • Add the beef and increase the heat to medium, and cook until beef is browned on all sides (around 5 minutes).
    2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 lbs. 900 grams chuck steak (filete de aguja)
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is golden (around 5 minutes).
    1 yellow onion, 4 garlic cloves
  • Stir in the flour, then add the wine, parsley, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, beef broth, salt, and pepper.
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1 cup dry red wine, 1 sprig parsley, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 cup beef broth, Salt and pepper to taste
  • Reduce the heat to low then simmer for 3 hours or until the beef is tender. If using, add the mushrooms around half way through. Add mushrooms around the 2-hour mark.
    0.4 lbs. 200g button mushrooms
  • Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a small saucepan with some cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain off any excess water and add to the casserole dish along with the chocolate, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
    ½ teaspoon finely grated dark chocolate, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, 2 large potatoes, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Continue cooking for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  • Cut the sausage into 1-inch pieces then cook In a medium skillet on medium heat until golden (around 5 minutes). Add to stew right before serving.
    1 large Butifarra sausage
  • Remove the bay leaf from the stew. Divide stew into bowls and serve piping hot with mashed potatoes or steamed white rice and steamed green beans.

Video

Notes

Cooking Tips:

Cook slow and low: The best way to avoid toughening the meat during the stewing process is to ensure you use a very low simmer and cook for long periods. The original recipe suggests 2 hours, although we opt for around 3 hours on a very low simmer. If you see your stew bubbling away too much, reduce the heat. Aim for just a bubble or two at a time. 
Stir frequently: Stir the stew every 10-15 minutes. This ensures the meat and other ingredients stew evenly. 
Best pots and pans to use: Be sure to use a deep dish or pot that is large enough. It will need to be at least 10-12 inches (25-30cm) in diameter and 4 inches (10cm) deep. Seasoned Cast Iron Pans are ideal for this type of cooking, as they are naturally non-stick and retain the heat evenly around the pan. 

Nutrition

Serving: 300gCalories: 648kcalCarbohydrates: 46.2gProtein: 36.5gFat: 35.3gSaturated Fat: 11.3gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 841mgPotassium: 989mgFiber: 4.6gSugar: 4.7gCalcium: 214mgIron: 8mg
Keyword Beef, chocolate, easy stew, mash potato, meat, meat stew

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