tuscan beef stew (peposo) …

At the last South Australian CWA (Country Women’s Association) Adelaide branch meeting, Tia, one of the food hostesses, brought along this amazing dish. It was a Tuscan beef stew. We crowded around the pot and sampled the stew. Oh my goodness – it was melt-in-your-mouth stuff. Tia explained that the dish was so easy to make. (Tia used chuck steak and varied the recipe by adding strips of orange peel.) I had to put my name down on the mailing list to get a copy of the recipe. Tia sent the recipe later that night. Thanks Tia!

As the recipe states “throw some beef in the oven and walk away – in a few hours you’ll have Jill’s unforgettable Tuscan stew.”

Jill Dupleix is a food writer, a restaurant critic and cook book author.

Jill says that one of the best meals she ate in Italy was a simple stew scattered with rocket and parmesan. She eventually tracked down the recipe. The recipe comes from the local potters who would mix chopped beef with lots of pepper, garlic, tomato and red wine, and leave it in their firing kilns to cook into melting tenderness.

A one-pot wonder. This dish literally cooks itself.

Ingredients
1.8kg beef shin, trimmed, cut into 5cm cubes
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
1/3 cup (95g) tomato paste
4 rosemary sprigs
1 cup (250ml) red wine
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
2/3 cup (110g) instant polenta
Grated parmesan and rocket, to serve

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 150°C.
2) Place the beef, garlic, anchovy fillets, tomato paste and rosemary sprigs in a flameproof casserole and season with sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Note: the cut of beef that I used for this stew was beef bolar blade.

3) Add the red wine and toss to combine, then add enough water to just cover the meat – about 1 cup (250ml).

4) Cover and bake for 4 hours until the meat is tender and the sauce is rich.

As the stew was cooking away the aroma in the kitchen got me super excited!

(If the sauce isn’t thick enough, strain the liquid into a small saucepan over high heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened, then pour back over the beef in the casserole and stir over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes.)

5) Meanwhile, place the chicken stock in a saucepan with 1 cup (250ml) water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, then slowly pour in the polenta in a steady stream and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until thick and creamy. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

6) Divide polenta among serving bowls and ladle over the beef stew. Scatter over parmesan and serve with rocket.

Note: I didn’t make the polenta. The stew was served with cauliflower and mashed potatoes. A good hearty meal for those cold nights.

Easy to make. Full of flavour. Deeeelicious!

This is a no-fail recipe and it’s a keeper. I can’t wait to make it again.

“Talk of joy: there may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes and home-made bread — there may be.” ~ David Grayson, ‘Adventures in Contentment’

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