Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cleo Coyle Shares a Recipe for Italian Stew from a Reality TV Guest

Cleo Coyle, pasta eater,
is author of The Coffeehouse
After coming home from a trip to Italy, Kerry Milliron, a longtime friend of mine, told me about a traditional Italian dish called spiedina. I asked him if he would share the recipe, and he was happy to provide the details. (I was equally happy to make the stew, take digital photos, and go into a food trance of enjoyment as I ate it.)

This old school Italian stew is a very simple one to make. It also brings me right back to my childhood when my Italian-born mother and aunt would make a long-simmering meat sauce for Sunday’s pasta. If you make it, may you and your loved ones eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

Watch Kerry on
the Discovery Channel!

You can see my friend Kerry Milliron as a guest in an episode of the new reality show Cash Cab, airing tomorrow (Wednesday), March 14, at 9:30 AM. If you're curious and you have the Discovery Channel in your cable mix, check out the show and have fun. :) 

I don't have a picture of Ker (just his lovely wife, Julie, in the photo below), but if you forced me to give you a celeb lookalike, it would have to be Jason Statham of the Transporter movies. In other words, if you see a man who looks like this...tell him Cleo Coyle says buon appetito!

(Kerry is a true Renaissance man, IMO. He's been an actor, dancer, poet, author. He's a devoted husband who cooks with passion and lives with joie de vivre. He also happens to be a publishing exec at Random House, and none of the above ever stopped him from having fun on the streets of NYC or Italy.)

Kerry's Spiedina: 
An Italian Stew

Text below courtesy of Kerry Milliron 

Spiedina is a simple stew that I first tasted in Ortona, on the Adriatic coast of Italy. The root of spiedina, in Italian, literally means skewered, and the nearby mountain town of Guardiagrele is famous for their skewered grilled meats. 

The Ortonians--whose more temperate clime allows them nearly year-round access to fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, etc.--probably found the spitted meats of Guardiagrele tasty but dry, and used them to add gusto to some of their local recipes. Their version of spiedina combines chunks of meat with a thick tomato base, for a rich ragout that's as quick and simple as bakery pizza.

~ Kerry

Kerry Milliron lives with his wife,
Julie, in New York's East village  

Julia Milliron in an ancient kitchen of Herculaneum, Italy, a
Roman town destroyed 
 in 79 AD, along with Pompeii, by the volcanic  eruption of Mount Vesuvius. (Photo by Kerry Milliron.)

Kerry's Spiedina: 
An Italian Stew


Salt & pepper
1 Pound of cubed beef tenderloin*
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1 clove chopped garlic
6 inches of dry (hard) Italian sausage (If you can't find dry sausage, try pepperoni instead.)*
1 28-ounce can of crushed Italian tomatoes

Step 1: Grill (or saute) your beef cubes until nicely browned, and set aside. 

Step 2: In a large saucepan over med-low flame, heat olive oil, and saute chopped onion, garlic, and your chunks of dry, hard Italian sausage for about 5 minutes. (If sausage begins to smoke or burn, temporarily remove it.)

Step 3: Stir in can of crushed Italian tomatoes, add browned beef cubes, and simmer, partially covered, over low flame for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally (about every 15 minutes). NOTE: If the stew boils over your pot, lower the flame and take off the lid completely. If the stew appears to be cooking down too quickly (if it becomes too thick or dry too soon) just add a bit of water and continue cooking. Don't try to rush the process, the stew should slow-cook 90 minutes to 2 hours for the most flavorful results.

Serve with crusty bread and a robust beverage. Store leftover stew in refrigerator.

Final Notes from Cleo...

* When I made Kerry's recipe, I upped the beef cube amount to 1-1/2 pounds. 

* If you can't find dry (hard) Italian sausage, ask the folks in your grocery store's deli section to help you locate it or try substituting pepperoni. 

* As with all stews, this one tastes even better the second day. Spices continue to blend, offering an even more flavorful experience. On Day 1, I ate the dish as a stew with crusty bread and red wine. On Day 2, I ladled the reheated stew over a big bowl of spaghetti because it makes a delicious meat sauce for pasta. 

Thanks again to Kerry for sharing his recipe. ~ Cleo

Perito, Italy  (Photo by Kerry Milliron)

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of

To get more recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or 
learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse: CoffeehouseMystery.com

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.


  1. gorgeous photos, and the stew sounds delish! Lucy

    1. Thanks for dropping in, Lucy. Old school, red-sauce Italian is truly a classic, isn't it? Thanks again to Kerry for agreeing to share his thoughts, photos, and recipe. :)

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. Looks so Good!!! Cant wait to try it .

  3. What an interesting recipe, Cleo. Simple and delicious. Everyone needs meals like that. Yum.

    Cash Cab? Can't wait to see what that's about!

    Good luck, Kerry!

    ~ Krista

  4. We often watch Cash Cab while eating dinner when it is just the two of us. Les and I compete against the passengers!!

    This looks like a wonderful recipe that we will have to try. Thanks to Kerry and to you for sharing the lovely pictures and the recipe!

  5. Do you know how I would adjust the receipe to use fresh tomatoes? I have some Roma seedlings that I will be looking for delicious and creative uses.