For us, there’s nothing like a long, slow braise on a rainy or blustery Sunday afternoon. So, this was an occasion for Big Red, our large Le Creuset dutch oven which has successfully produced our best braised dishes over the years. Several weeks back, Russ came across this Tuscan Beef and Black Pepper Stew (Peposo Alla Fornacina) recipe from 177 Milk Street, a site who’s recipes have kept us more than intrigued.
The simple, generously peppered beef stew known as peposo is said to have been created by 15th century kiln (fornacina) workers in Tuscany, Italy. Chianti is the best-known wine produced in that region and is the traditional choice for peposo, but any dry, medium-bodied red wine works well. Chianti we had on hand, so Chianti we used (and drank).
Make sure to use coarsely ground black pepper, as it has more presence and better coats the beef. This recipe makes a generous amount of stew—about 2 quarts—so serve it one night with polenta; another with mashed potatoes or braised beans. The stew keeps well, so it can be made up to three days ahead and reheated in the microwave or in a saucepan over low.
The first night we served ours with parm-infused polenta and roasted Brussels sprouts and garlic.
Don’t be shy about trimming the fat from the chuck roast. Remove as much as you can, which may mean shedding about 1 pound. Pull the roast apart at the natural seams, then use a sharp knife to trim the fat and cut the pieces into 2-inch chunks.
Because that’s what we had in the freezer, we used 5.5 lbs. of boneless short ribs, which have more consistent marbling and less chunks of fat throughout than chuck roast.
Yes, it’s time-consuming overall, but only about a half-hour of active time. Plus, with a limited number of easy-to-get ingredients, you don’t have to assemble an army of elements to produce an award-winning meal.
Tuscan Beef with Black Pepper Stew
- 6 to 7 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
- Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 12 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 sprigs rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 2 cups dry red wine
- Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Place the beef in a large bowl, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons pepper, then toss.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Nestle the beef and rosemary sprigs in the onion mixture. Add a piece of parchment, large enough to cover the entire pot and push down to surface of meat. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours.
- Remove the pot from the oven. Stir, then return to the oven uncovered (toss the parchment). Cook until a knife inserted into a piece of beef meets no resistance, another 1 to 1½ hours.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl; cover with foil.
- Set a fine mesh strainer over a fat separator or a medium bowl. Pour the meat juices into the strainer and press on the solids to push them through the strainer; discard any solids left behind.
- Pour the wine into the now-empty pot and bring to a boil over medium-high, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce to medium and simmer until the wine is syrupy and reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, if you strained the meat juices into a bowl, use a spoon to skim off and discard the fat from the surface.
- Pour the defatted meat juices into the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Return the beef to the pot, add the minced rosemary and stir gently. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is heated, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons pepper, then taste and season with salt.
Recipe by Diane Unger from 177MilkStreet.com