Italian Peppered Beef Stew (Peposo)
PREP AND COOK TIME: About 2 1/2 hours
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.
MAKES: 6 servings
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
Oven-dried tomatoes or 2 Roma tomatoes, rinsed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1. Brown beef (see No-Mess Browning). Discard fat.
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.
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.
Per serving of stew: 504 cal., 41% (207 cal.) from fat; 61 g protein; 23 g fat (8.5 g sat.); 11 g carbo (2.1 g fiber); 463 mg sodium; 197 mg chol.