Peposo dell’Impruneta – Making Bad Beef Better Since Before Columbus

Some recipes have amusing, or romantic stories for how they came to be, but this peposo isn’t one of them, unless you consider making bad quality beef taste better by covering it in black pepper, amusing or romantic.


As the story goes, the workers who made terracotta tiles in the city of Impruneta, would place this stew into clay pots, and leave it their still-hot kilns overnight, where it would be ready the next morning. Since they were often stuck using less than fresh meat, copious amounts of black peppercorn was used to make the beef palatable.

Luckily, this recipe adapts quite nicely to fresh meat, and produces one of the more uniquely flavored braised beef dishes I’ve ever had. The amount of black pepper is up to you, but even the ridiculous amount I used wasn’t overpowering. The acidity and sweetness of the reduced wine balances everything beautifully.


I hear that beef shank is the traditional cut of meat to use, but short ribs worked really well. You could even use some beef chuck, cut into two-inch pieces, but you’d have to adjust the cooking time. Having said that, forget the time, and keep cooking until a fork goes in easily. Regardless of which cut you use, or how fresh it is, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
6 bone-in beef short ribs (about 8 to 10 ounces each)
1 tablespoon kosher salt to coat the beef
8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, freshly crushed
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 sage leaves
3-4 small sprigs rosemary
2 cups red wine, preferably Chianti
2 bay leaves
salt to taste, to adjust sauce
– Simmer on low, covered, about 3 1/2 hours, or until fork tender. Turn occasionally.

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