Diced beef stew with Polenta

Diced beef stew ‘Bruscitt’ is a meat dish from Busto Arsizio in Lombardy northern Italy: it is a sauce made from coarsely ground minced beef, cooked in red wine and flavoured with fennel seeds. ‘Bruscitti’ are great if served with a coarse polenta, but if you don’t like coarse polenta you can opt for a finer grained polenta, or mashed potatoes.


  • beef 600 grams
  • butter 50 grams
  • fennel seeds 1 pinch of fennel seeds
  • garlic 1 clove
  • wine 1 glass of robust wine
  • salt
  • pancetta 80 grams
  • onions 1 white onion

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60 minutes Total time
45 minutes Active time
Serves 4 persons
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Cut the meat into chunks and then, piece by piece, cut it again into small pea-sized cubes. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the garlic and chopped onion. When the onion is softened, add the pieces of meat, pancetta and fennel seeds. Let it cook until the flavours are mingled and adjust the salt, then add the red wine. Let the wine reduce, then cover the pan and cook until well done. At the end of the cooking, the meat and sauce must be sufficiently liquid to accompany some polenta.

If you don’t like fennel seeds to remain in the dish when finished you can wrap them up in a piece of gauze instead, making them easy to remove at the end. Alternatively, replace them with a bay leaf.
The cuisine of Busto Arsizio is known as ‘bustocca’: once, it is claimed, this dish was made from bits of meat that were eliminated during the tanning process. This theory is not well supported, and therefore a second version is that the meat scraps were simply slaughter waste.

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