Peposo is a part of the traditional Tuscan cuisine, typical of Impruneta, a town in the surrounding hills near Florence, famous for the production of handmade tiles and terra cotta pots. In fact the peposo was prepared at night, by craftsmen who worked in the kilns and cooked for 6-8 hours in the ovens where they baked their vases and tiles.
The ingredients could vary depending on availability and season, but the basic cuts of meat were always available (usually the muscle of beef known as Muscolo) these cuts are best for the long braising because of good fat content known as marbling and a good amount of connective tissue giving a wonderful meaty flavor.
Garlic, herbs and lots of pepper are traditional flavors of the long cooking meat, dipped in Chianti and help to create a tasty dish, to serve at parties or special occasions and of course served with plenty of Chianti wine to match. My version how ever highlights an ingredient that is not traditional but is found in many peposo recipes, that being cocoa powder, and by using dark chocolate (a great pairing of Chianti wine) the flavours are enhanced and dish become more delicate and decadent.
— 1kg beef (shank is the best cut)
— 2 large onions
— 1 large carrot
— 1 celery stalk
— 10 black pepper corns
— 5 juniper berries
— 2 bay leaves
— 50g dark chocolate
— 1 bottle of Chianti red wine or similar
— 100ml tomato sauce
- Start by peeling, cleaning and cutting into medium pieces your carrot, celery and onion also known in Italy as Soffrito.
- Sauté your soffrito with extra virgin olive oil in a large pot and cook on a low heat until soft and tender. While your soffrito is cooking, clean and trim your Beef Muscle, making sure all hard tissue or tendons are removed and cut into large chunks.
- In a separate pan, brown your meat and season with salt and pepper. Transfer your meat into your pot with the soffrito and add your Black pepper corns, Bay leaves and Juniper Berries (fennels seeds are also good). Cook together for a minute and then add your Chianti Wine and bring to the boil straight away then drop to a low simmer and continue cooking for 3 hours.
- At this stage check the tenderness of your meat, and add your Dark chocolate and tomato sauce and cook for a further hour or until meat is tender. Once the meat is tender, remove from the liquid and cool to stop the cooking process. Strain your sauce through a fine sieve and reduce too a stable sauce like consistency. Return the meat to your sauce, bring to heat and serve. Recommended serving with mash potatoes.