Add about two tablespoons olive oil to a large, heavy skillet, heat to hot. Drop cubed beef into sizzling skillet, brown on high heat without burning. When browned on most sides, take from pan and add to soup pot, cover with crushed tomatoes and stock.
Next sautee chopped garlic in olive oil until lightly golden, add to soup pot then sautee onion untill lightly golden and add to soup pot. Sautee mushrooms in oil on high for a few minutes or untill golden-brown. Add mushrooms to soup pot with spices, oregano and/or thyme to taste, pinch pepper, and a tablespoon dry or good bunch of fresh basil. Put covered, on medium heat until it comes to a boil, then simmer on lower heat covered and then uncovered untill flavors cook through and stew thickens and beef cooks, about 2 hours. In the meantime, prepare the polenta. Bring the chicken stock or water to a rolling boil. In separate pot, have polenta. Slowly add boiling stock TO polenta, stirring slowly until combined to avoid lumps. When all the stock in combined, bring back to a boil and lower heat, cover and let cook on low heat untill polenta is fairly thick. Oil a tray for the polenta or a piece of plastic wrap. When it is cool enough to handle, shape into a log and put in plastic wrap and wrap and cinch on both ends, or spread into the pan. Set aside, uncovered, to cool. (Polenta can be prepared in advance, the night before, refrigerated and brought to room temperature before serving). When stew is thick and meat and onions etc., are cooked check flavor and adjust with seasoning if desired. When stew is the right flavor, turn off heat. Slice polenta and put in bowls, (a few slices each). Pour stew over top and serve, (serve with a sprinkle of grate parmesan and/or romano cheese and/or garnish with fresh basil if desired)..... Serve and enjoy!!!!