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Tuscan-Style Beef Stew

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Tuscan beef stew (peposo), a stew made by the tile-makers of Florence's famous Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral Duomo, is a simple stew of beef braised in wine, with loads of peppercorns and a head of garlic cloves. To improve the texture and flavor of ours without veering too far from the original, we added tomato paste and anchovies for meatiness, powdered gelatin for body, and shallots, carrots, and herbs for complexity. To ensure a full-bodied wine flavor, we add some wine at the beginning of the long braise, more before reducing the sauce, and a small amount at the end. And we did the same with the peppercorns: cracked pepper at the start, ground pepper toward the end, and more cracked pepper on serving.

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Ingredients

  • 4-pounds 4-pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus to taste
  • 1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Chianti
  • 1 cup 1 cup water
  • 4 4 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 2 2 carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 1 garlic head, cloves separated, unpeeled, and crushed
  • 4 sprigs 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns, plus extra for serving
  • 1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 teaspoons 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Details

Servings 8
Preparation time 30mins
Cooking time 290mins
Adapted from cooksillustrated.com

Preparation

Step 1

Toss beef and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt together in bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300°F.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of beef in single layer and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total, reducing heat if fond begins to burn. Stir in 2 cups wine, water, shallots, carrots, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, cracked peppercorns, gelatin, tomato paste, anchovy paste, and remaining beef. Bring to simmer and cover tightly with sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, then lid. Transfer to oven and cook until beef is tender, 2 to 2 1/4 hours, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to bowl; cover tightly with foil and set aside. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator. Wipe out pot with paper towels. Let liquid settle for 5 minutes, then return defatted liquid to pot.

Add 1 cup wine and ground black pepper and bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened to consistency of heavy cream, 12 to 15 minutes.

Combine remaining wine and cornstarch in small bowl. Reduce heat to medium-low, return beef to pot, and stir in cornstarch-wine mixture. Cover and simmer until just heated through, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve, passing extra cracked peppercorns separately. Stew can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

We prefer boneless short ribs in this recipe because they require very little trimming. If you cannot find them, substitute a 5-pound chuck roast. Trim the roast of large pieces of fat and sinew, and cut it into 2-inch pieces. If Chianti is unavailable, a medium-bodied wine such as Côtes du Rhône or Pinot Noir makes a nice substitute. Serve with polenta or crusty bread.

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