Northern Italian Beef stew with potatoes

Ingredients – yield 8 portions

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 900gr lean top round, cut into 1-inch cubes. Try not to discard all the natural fat. It will make your stew soft and moist
  • 2 large  onions, diced
  • 2 cups of celery, diced
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large rounds
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cups dry red wine. Good quality wine will make your stew amazing.
  • 800gr tin chopped tomatoes in sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the beef in batches in hot oil until browned completely, about 5 minutes per batch.
  2. Remove browned beef cubes to a plate, keeping skillet over heat and retaining the beef drippings.
  3. Cook and stir onion, celery, and carrots in the retained beef drippings until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Pour red wine into the pan; bring to a boil while scraping the browned bits of food off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  5. Continue cooking the mixture until the wine evaporates, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir tomatoes into the mixture.
  6. Return beef to skillet with basil, thyme, marjoram, and sage:  Bring the liquid to a simmer.
  7. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered with its lid, until the beef is very tender and the sauce is thick, 4 to 6 hours.
  8. Add potatoes 1h before serving.

You could start the process in a skillet and finish it in a slow cooker.

The 2nd of September I started my new adventure: teaching cooking skills in a team building environment to Corporate groups.
I can’t deny: promoting my business to Corporate made me terribly nervous: what if they are expecting something I couldn’t deliver?
You know, the feeling you have when you KNOW you can do it, but still..the first jump is always the most difficult.
What are the causes of my “nervousness”?
First: the new kitchen.

To accommodate larger groups, I obviously needed a larger kitchen. Located in Aberdeen city centre, complete with eight cooking stations and all the tools necessary to

enjoy my classes, the excellent kitchen facility nearby Union Square – www.cfine.org is taking me from my “comfort zone”, my beautiful kitchen in Kintore.

The central location is perfect for Companies, easy to find and most of all provides a professional space that allows everyone the chance to do some serious cooking.

But after teaching in my kitchen for over a year, CFINE is was a new territory that I needed to get used to. Luckily enough I ran a dry run cooking class to see how it went.

Working with CFINE volunteers and friends, I realized I was very confident and ready to take “the first jump“.

You can hear CFINE’s perspective on their blog article here – https://www.cfine.org/blog/we-made-pasta-from-scratch.

Needless to say, CFINE and Cook’s day off are now partners in crime 🙂

Second: my predecessor

I had several companies contact Cook’s day off regarding larger groups and every time some we discussed my cooking classes, inevitably Nick Nairn came up in our discussion.

Would you do same type of class Nick was offering? Would you offer a glass of wine like Nick used to do? Do you deliver it like Nick?”

I’ve never been in any of Nick’s classes. Not because I think I couldn’t learn from him. Quite the contrary. Nick started his cooking school here in Aberdeen when

he was at the top of his career – a Michelin star chef, tv shows and cooking books with his name …WOW!! He has my total respect! And yes, it was in my plans to

attend one of his classes, to take “notes” of his style and take some inspirations for mine.

But now it’s too late and I have to use my own resources and experience to deliver the best I can. I am just Sam. Driven by the passion of being with people teaching what I love the most – cooking.

And my style? Very relaxed, fun and instructive at the same time. Very often the comments I have on my Facebook page is: you make it look so easy to do Macarons (or Pizza, or pasta etc.).

And I answer yes. Because at the heart of my classes is helping everyone to realize they have a potential, everyone can cook.

So far I have worked with Nexen (Macaron Class), Wood and Anderson of Inverurie (fresh pasta and sauces). Feedback has been excellent and I’d say, everyone had fun!

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