206g (pack) cubetti di pancetta
2kg sliced beef braising steak, cut into 5cm pieces
50g unsalted butter
2 large onions, halved and sliced
1 tbsp. soft light brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, crushed
75g plain flour
1 litre fresh beef stock
100ml Italian red wine
100ml ruby port
6 fresh bay leaves
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1. Put the porcini pieces in a bowl and cover with 250ml just-boiled water. Rest a small saucer on top to keep them submerged and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
2. Strain the mushrooms through a fine sieve, catching the liquid in a spare bowl, pressing as much of the liquid through as possible. Set aside the mushrooms and strain the soaking liquid through a kitchen paper-lined sieve to catch any grit; discard this and set aside the strained liquid.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of dripping or oil in a large, non-stick flameproof casserole. Add the pancetta and fry for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Remove to a plate using a slotted spoon and set aside.
4. Brown a few pieces of the steak at a time in the casserole, adding a little more dripping or oil when necessary. Set aside with the pancetta while you brown the remainder. When you have finished, wipe the casserole clean to avoid burnt bits.
5. Add another 1 tablespoon of oil or dripping to the casserole with 25g of the butter. When it has melted, add the onions, sugar and a pinch of salt and fry, stirring now and then, for 10 minutes, until they are soft and richly browned. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150°C, fan 130°C, gas 2.
6. Add the garlic to the onions and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the squeezed-out porcini and fry for 2-3 minutes more. Add the reserved porcini soaking liquid and simmer until it has almost disappeared. Stir in 50g of the plain flour, then gradually stir in the stock, red wine and port, and bring to the boil, stirring. Return the browned beef and pancetta to the casserole with the bay leaves, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and some seasoning. Bring back to the boil, cover with a sheet of foil or baking paper and a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours.
7. Uncover, stir in the chestnuts, re-cover and cook for a further 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the meat is meltingly tender. Adjust the seasoning to taste.