Peposo Notturno

Peposo notturno, a Tuscan stew,  is one of the most delicious things you will ever eat.  You have to have faith in me when you see the ingredients.  There is a story that goes with this:

It’s the early 1400s in Florence Italy. You’re a mason working on an engineering marvel – the dome on the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (in English known as Florence Cathedral).

Your co-workers who make the tiles for the dome have an overnight recipe that uses the cooling kilns to cook their next day’s meals. Since it has lots of pepper and takes overnight to cook it gets the name Peposo Notturno, nighttime pepperiness.

This is such a simple recipe to make but it cooks for 12 hours, so start early.  I prepare it a day ahead because the flavor improves after it sits in the fridge for  a day or two.

This recipe makes enough for 8 servings.

6 meaty beef shanks

2 bottles of bold red wine

12 HEADS of garlic, leave them whole

1/2 to 3/4 CUP freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon of sea salt

These are the classic ingredients but I add a few more as you shall see.

Throw the shanks in a pot.  You can brown them if you wish but I didn't and it was still delicious. Add the salt and pepper.  I know it sounds like a lot but trust me on this.

Add the 12 heads of garlic.  At the end of the cooking time, you remove them and squeeze the cooked garlic out of the skins and add it back to the stew.  They have cooked thoroughly and are sweet and creamy.

I added some sage, rosemary, thyme and 2 bay leaves.

I missed some pics but I also added some of my tomato/anchovy paste mix and a container of demi glace.  Add the 2 bottles of red wine.  Cover it and and place it in a 250 degree oven for 12 hours. When the stew is done cooking, remove the shanks and  shred or chunk them.  Remove the garlic and squeeze the cloves out of the skins, smash them and add them back to the stew. Remove the marrow from the  bones and add it back in too along with the meat. Remove all of the herbs, they have done their job. This is where you have to trust me.  Even with all of the pepper and garlic, you really don't taste them separately. This becomes a silky, rich, tender stew that is served with mashed potatoes or polenta. It is sometimes served on slices of rustic garlic toast.  Typically, this stew is not thickened but I wanted mine to have a slightly thicker sauce so I stirred some flour that I mixed with a bit of butter into it at the end and cooked it on the stove top until I had the consistency I wanted.

This reminds me of a French daube which is one of my all time favorite dishes. It is also a perfect meal to serve to a crowd. And since you can make it ahead of time, it's a great dish to serve to guests.


What an interesting recipe and back story!
Susan said…
Lordy, this sounds delicious!
I think I actually have had this and I liked it a lot. An an acquaintance was married to a woman from Italy and she made all kinds of delicious Italian dinners :-)

Have a great day!

Guillaume said…
That looks delicious. And perfectly hearty for autumn.
Susan Heather said…
Sounds delicious. I got worried when I saw the oven temperature but then realised you are in Fahrenheit which is only 130° C.
Kay said…
This looks amazing. I remember when we went to Italy and had Tuscan flavoring for the first time. I still remember how blown away by the taste of it. Your family is so lucky!
Mystica said…
Just reading about it was lovely. Twelve garlic heads......
Helen said…
This sounds fantastic! I've saved.
Jan said…
This sounds amazing. What a wonderful story about the dish.
Rain said…
That looks so good, I took a double take when I saw the mashed potatoes lol...I think you made a mistake in the should be THREE bottles of wine, two for the stew, one for the cook!!! ☺☺