The simplest stew you’ve ever made – beef, black pepper & red wine
The clue is in the name for how to make a Tuscan peposo stew… peposo, means peppery in Italian.
And, of course a classic stew needs wine… quite a lot too.
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOKING TIME: 3 hrs
IDEAL FOR: one-pot meal, family, crowd-pleaser
WINE PAIRING TIP: Suzie (Michael Sutton’s Cellar) always suggests buying wine from the same region of the dish you’re making.
And in this case, we use a lot of red wine in the cooking so it makes total sense.
Now, this stew is a Tuscan recipe so calls for a Chianti but Chianti’s can be expensive so I’ve been give two options so you can decide which way you feel like going.
On the budget side but by no means lesser in flavour, the Nerello Mascalese – Cantine Paolini (£8.75), is smooth and fragrant… and from Sicily.
(I also used this in the stew itself)
If you want to go for a regional wine and push the boat out… then try the Chianti Classico ‘Retromarcia’, Monte Bernardi (£20). Ripe, succulent with classic cherry flavours.
Wine and stews
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of slow cooking.
And I’m even a bigger fan of slow cooking with wine.
This marriage made in heaven requires you to cook slowly.
Think of one of France’s National dishes, Beef Bourguignon.
Or Southern Frances take on it with its more Mediterranean flavours in their Daube de boeuf.
Both these use wine in their stews.
The alcohol, acidity and fruitiness that we enjoy drinking, mellows in a low & slow cook.
It helps break down the tough meat and leaves us with a tender flavoursome dish.
Tuscan peposo stew
Tuscan peposo stew originated with the workers in the terracotta factories of Impruneta, near Florence, back in medieval times.
So, it’s been around a while.
And this classic stew only involves 4 main ingredients.
- olive oil,
So, all you need on top of this is time.
A minimum of 2 hours on a low simmer.
But like most slow cooks, the longer the better.
As this will mean the wine can be absorbed into the meat, making it tender.
And the garlic will gently become soft and tender and flavour the whole stew.
And of course, as in the dishes namesake… peposo.
You need pepper.
Lots of it!
This gives an awesome depth of flavour and a fiery-warming heat to the stew.
But don’t worry, the wine does mellow it out a bit.
To get more depth of flavour with this dish, leave overnight.
Serve up the next day with creamy polenta, mashed potato or pasta.
And crack open another bottle of wine!
What’s the difference between boeuf bourguignon & daube de boeuf
Bourguignon, means, ‘of Bourgogne’ or Burgundy.
This region sits in eastern France between Lyon and Paris.
And has great wine.
In a boeuf bourguignon you lightly dust flour all over the beef before browning off.
Then cook the beef slowly in fruity red wine until so soft.
You’ll also find mushrooms, baby onions and bacon lardons.
Daube de boeuf stew
‘Daube’ comes from the French ‘daubière’.
A traditional daubière is a terracotta pot that looks like a pitcher, used for the low and slow cooking.
It’s a classic dish from the South of France.
And the is beef stewed in red wine.
But unlike boeuf bourguignon the veggie ingredients include carrots, tomatoes and orange peels.
And you don’t dust the beef with flour before browning off.
Quick cooking tips
Wine in cooking
Use a good bottle of wine.
You want to be happy to drink it.
It doesn’t have to very expensive, or from the region itself.
But like a Burgundy wine is for the boeuf bourguignon, it’s a nice touch to compliment your dish by using the regional wine.
If you can cook your stew a day or two in advance, it will taste epic.
Extra tips for boeuf bourguignon
Dark chocolate isn’t a classic element of boeuf bourguignon but it does add depth and richness.
To try it – just add 2–3 squares of good quality dark chocolate when you add the carrots, mushrooms and onions.
Here’s a top tip from The Great British Chefs for a beouf bourguignon
Marinate the beef overnight to make the meat more tender. This is how;
- Place a large pan over a medium heat and add the wine, onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
- Bring to the boil then immediately reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins. Allow to cool at room temperature, then place in a large bowl in the fridge until cold.
- When the marinade is cool, add the diced beef to the bowl, stir and cover. Place in the fridge to marinate overnight.
- The next day, remove the meat from the marinade with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. Strain the marinade and discard the onion, garlic and herbs, reserving the liquid.
- Blot the meat with more kitchen roll to dry it as much as possible and allow it come to room temperature, which will take around 30 minutes.
- Now just follow the usual recipe…
Tuscan peposo stew – my favourite stew
I’m keeping it simple this week.
So, the Tuscan peposo is the stew for me.
But it’s worth playing around with the French versions to find the stew for you!
Tuscan peposo stew
- 1 kg beef chuck, cut into large chunks of about 5cm
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper (add more if you want a bit more peppery fire)
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 bottle of Chianti or red wine
- In a casserole dish, on a medium heat, add the olive oil and brown the meat in batches.Once done, put all the meat back in the dish and add the peeled garlic, red wine, a pinch of salt and ground pepper (if you can use whole peppercorns and bash in a pestle and mortar until fine).
- Bring the pan to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 2-3 hrs or until the meat is lovely and tender.Have a taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- NB: If you want to reduce the saucer, remove the lid from the last 45mins.Serve with creamy polenta, mashed potato or pasta. Or, rest for a few hours – or overnight – then reheat gently.