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Italian Peppered Beef Stew (Peposo)

Makes 6 servings

Notes: John Ash, culinary director of Bonterra and Fetzer Vineyards, adds a generous quantity of garlic and cracked pepper to this beef stew. The gremolata adds a fresh finish of lemon and garlic. Start the polenta about 30 minutes before stew is done. The stew can be prepared through step 2 up to 1 day ahead; cool, cover, and chill. Reheat over medium-high heat, covered, stirring occasionally.

Italian Peppered Beef Stew (Peposo)

James Carrier
 4 pounds fat-trimmed boned beef chuck or other cut suitable for stewing, rinsed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
 2 cups dry red wine such as Zinfandel or Merlot
 2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes
 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 3 tablespoons dried basil
 18 peeled garlic cloves
 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh-cracked or coarse-ground black pepper
  Creamy polenta
  Oven-dried tomatoes or 2 Roma tomatoes, rinsed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
Step 1

Brown beef. Discard fat.

Step 2

Add wine, canned tomatoes (including juices), basil, garlic, and 1 tablespoon cracked pepper to pan with beef. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is very tender when pierced, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Skim off and discard fat. Add salt and up to 1/2 tablespoon more cracked pepper to taste.

Step 3

Spoon polenta onto dinner plates or a large shallow bowl or rimmed platter. With a slotted spoon, lift out beef and mound onto center of polenta. Measure remaining pan juices; if less than 3 cups, add water to make that amount, return to pan, and bring to a boil; add salt to taste and pour juices into a serving bowl. Pass pan juices to add to taste. Garnish stew with oven-dried tomato slices and gremolata.

Step 4

No-mess browning:

Step 5

Place meat in a heavy-bottomed 5- to 6-quart pan. Add 1/2 cup water; cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer briskly over medium heat until meat is gray on the outside and has rendered juices and fat, 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 6

Uncover pan, increase heat to high, and stir often until most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir often until meat juices have caramelized and darkened and meat has browned in the rendered fat, about 5 minutes longer. If drippings and the brown film on pan begin to scorch, reduce heat to medium.

Step 7

Nutritional analysis per serving of stew.

Nutrition Facts

Servings Makes 6 servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 504Calories from Fat 41
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 23g36%

Saturated Fat 8.5g43%
Cholesterol 197mg66%
Sodium 463mg20%
Total Carbohydrate 11g4%

Dietary Fiber 2.1g9%
Protein 61g122%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.