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Add the beef and saute, stirring occasionally, until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add wine and thyme, stir well, and bring to boil.
Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper, then lower heat to moderately low, cover, and simmer, stirring every 15 minutes, until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.
In heavy, large pot over moderately-high heat, bring stock to a boil. Lower the heat to moderate and gradually whisk in the polenta, stirring constantly. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until polenta thickens and pulls away from sides of pan, about 5 minutes. Transfer the polenta to an oil-coated serving bowl and keep warm. Let the polenta sit for 5 to 10 minutes so it can set up.
When the beef is tender, use tongs to remove the tomato skins, if desired and the thyme sprigs.
Turn the polenta out of the bowl, slice, and serve alongside the stew.