Slow Cooked Tuscan Beef Stew
Beef Peposo. Slow cooked, succulent melt-in-your-mouth meat, in a rich red wine sauce. So much more than just a “beef stew”, yet simple to make. We first tasted Beef Peposo on our first trip to Italy. Friends had told us that Lucca was their favourite place, so we squeezed in an overnight stay. Glorious! We stayed in an amazing hotel with painted walls and ancient stone steps worn down by by hundreds of feet over the years. After a day of walking and exploring (and a little shopping) we found a wonderful old restaurant and had the most amazing meal. After three weeks of eating very little meat, the Beef Peposo was a revelation! Rich, peppery and just down right delicious! Upon our return I started to google and experiment, and it has been a staple winter dinner party meal ever since.
So, a few weeks ago, when planning a dinner party, I googled my favourite Beef Peposo recipe. Gone. Disappeared. There was swearing. Actually, quite a bit of swearing. Then I remembered that I had shared this recipe with my friend Theresa, having extracted a solemn vow that she would not put it in a slow cooker, and she came to the rescue with the recipe. So this post is as much for me as for you – I don’t want to lose it again! The history of Beef Peposo is that beef and red wine were put in terracotta pots and cooked in the furnaces that fired the tiles for the Duomo in Florence. Traditionally, it does not include tomatoes, which would not have been in Italy at this time.
Start with the meat. I prefer to use beef cheeks for this recipe, but you could use gravy beef or chuck steak. Cut into very large chunks – this is going to cook for a long time. I ordered my cheeks from Billy’s and my tip would be to ask them to dice it for you as well – or get a very good arm work out! Place into a large pot, along with diced onion, carrot and celery and garlic. That’s right – no browning, no cooking – just all in the pot. Cover with Chianti. Now you can use another red wine if you prefer, but the Chianti works well and you need to start with about a litre, or until meat is covered:
Bring to the boil then reduce the heat. Partially cover with a lid and gently simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. After two hours, the peposo will look like this:
I know, I know, not attractive. But the aroma! Add in 2 bay leaves, 2 anchovy fillets, tomato paste, heaps of freshly ground black pepper, beef stock and the rest of the wine. Simmer uncovered for another two hours. Just remember to give it a stir every now and then so that you don’t end up with dried out beef on top. Test for salt and add if needed.
Serve with polenta, baked polenta or mashed potato and some ciabatta bread to soak up that amazing sauce. Buon Appetito!
- 2 kg beef cheeks, cut into large pieces
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- I litre of Chianti, or other light red wine
- 500ml beef or veal stock
- 1 tbs freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbs tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 anchovy fillets
- salt to taste
- Place beef, celery, carrot, onion and garlic in a large pot and cover with chianti. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and partially cover. Simmer gently for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Add stock, remaining wine, anchovies, bay leaves, pepper and tomato paste. Continue to simmer uncovered for a further two hours, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt, and add if needed
- Serve with mashed potato or polenta and green beans or a salad. Make sure you have lots of good bread to mop up this delicious sauce!