I love meals with history and Peposo di Manzo (Beef stewed in red wine with black peppercorns) goes back more than half a millennium — and it is the definition of comfort food.
Legend has it that Peposo was a dish that originated in Impruneta, Italy, a town in the hillsides of Florence. Impruneta was known for their red clay for making bricks and roof tiles. It was there where the Renaissance architect, Brunelleschi, got his bricks and tiles for the famous dome (Duomo) for the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. When brick makers fired their bricks in their kiln, they also used the heat of the kiln to cook Peposo.
Besides the rich, tender taste of the beef, what I love about this recipe is that it is extremely simple to make. No pre-browning of the meat. No chopping or dicing of aromatics or other vegetables. Just put the ingredients in a pot, turn on the heat, and wait for melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.
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Peposo di Manzo (Beef in Red Wine with Black Peppercorns)
- 2 pounds (32 ounces, approximately 1 kilogram) chuck roast, also known as beef chuck arm
- 1 bottle, 750 ml dry red wine (preferably chianti, sangiovese, or syrah)
- 1 stalk rosemary
- 5-7 fresh sage leaves
- 5 garlic cloves peeled and gently crushed, but left whole
- 2 heaping tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (not table salt). More salt to taste as needed (taste half way through cooking to determine)
- Trim “silver” fat and large pieces of fat from beef chuck roast. Cut in to approximately 2 inch (5 cm) equal sized pieces. Place into a large Dutch oven, or heavy bottomed pot
- Pour entire bottle of wine, peppercorns, garlic, and 1 teaspoons of salt over beef. If you happen to have cheesecloth I recommend putting the peppercorns in a little cloth bag for easy removal at the end
- Place rosemary and sage leaves in pot
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Simmer on low for approximately 2 1/2 – 3 hours. The beef is done when it is fork-tender, with no knife needed to cut it. If you find that the wine has evaporated (the likely culprit is too high a heat) and the pot is dry, add a little beef stock to it
- Before serving, remove the rosemary stalk (the leaves will likely have fallen off, which is fine) and the sage leaves. Warn guests to scrape away the peppercorns before eating if you didn’t use cheesecloth
- Serve over polenta, rice or with a side of white beans with olive oil.