Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just four hours until Italian stew heaven

Melt-in-your-mouth tender beef, with rich flavours and perhaps the easiest recipe I’ve ever made, makes this a must-do during winter

Just four hours until Italian stew heaven

I’ve found, since moving from Australia at the beginning of the year, that’s there’s very little I’ve missed. I miss the usual things of course – family, friends, familiarity – but there’s something to be said for unfamiliar thrills. However, it’s food that I’ve found my biggest challenge in adjusting to life in Switzerland, strange as that may seem. I’ve complained about platinum-plated meat prices and the utter lack of some ingredients that I consider staples – liquid stock the foremost one – but otherwise I make do and carry on. But I’m glad of the small chances I get to experience food familiarity every now and again – like the May issue of delicious.
Peposo, mash and rocket

I’ve been buying delicious on and off for a couple of years, but the annual Italian issue in May is a must-buy. So, with the approach of May this year, I asked my mum to buy and send over the May issue. Once it arrived, I had a quick flick through and pretty much left it forgotten on my coffee table for the next six months. With the approach of winter, I recently started to look for wintery, comfort-food ideas.

Picking up May’s delicious, I came across contributor Jill Dupleix’s peposo, or Tuscan beef stew. It looked ridiculously simple and hearty, so one cool, cloudy Saturday I decided to give it a go, impulsively inviting some friends over to share. First, the ingredients; they’re pretty simple. It’s just stewing beef, red wine, tomato paste, rosemary, garlic and anchovies for seasoning. That’s it. As Jill mentioned in her introduction to this recipe in the magazine (I’ve only included the link to the delicious web page here), anything more would ruin it.

While the price of the beef for it made my eyes water (paying CHF45 – A$48 – for 1.8kg of the cheapest cut of beef I could find), it was so worth it. It’s perhaps one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made; just a matter of placing all the ingredients into a casserole dish (my beloved blue Le Creuset I had brought over recently) and placing into a moderately slow oven for four hours. Simplest dinner party recipe I’ve done.
Rich flavours and melt-in-the-mouth tenderness

While Jill suggests serving this with some polenta, I decided make some mashed potato instead, as I’m still warming to the taste of polenta. But it didn’t matter – the hero of the night was the peposo. What an amazing dish. After four hours of quietly cooking away, I lifted the lid of the dish and the aroma of red wine, garlic and rosemary immediately assaulted us. It tasted as good as it smelt. The rich flavours of the wine and garlic perfectly complemented the rosemary and beef, which was so tender it easily pulled apart with just a fork and melted in the mouth.

It’s a shame that, being here, I’m now six months out with the recipes in delicious. They’re now publishing summer ones. But, there’s always next year’s May issue, and its Italian winter delights, to look forward to within its pages.

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