While I was thinking about what I’d make for dinner this evening, I came across a recipe for this stew and started to read a story about it and it’s beginnings. That led me on a Google search for Florence, Italy’s main basilica, Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Del Fiore and it’s creation. I’ve been to this basilica and it is massive and beautiful. I love to read about these basilica’s because it brings me back to when I read the book, The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. It’s a long book, but such a great story. I highly recommend it.
The story of this dish goes that the main architect of the Santa Maria Del Fiore’s dome, Filippo Brunelleschi, was having terracotta tiles made for the dome in the nearby village of Impruneta. Being the perfectionist that he was, he would go and supervise the making of these tiles each day and during the final firing of the tiles, he noticed that the kiln workers (or fornacini) would put a large pot inside the kiln, close to its opening. Later on he discovered that they would then help themselves to a stew that was simmering most of the day in that pot. The stew they were preparing was a dish known today as Peposo Alla Fornacina. According to local legend, Brunelleschi fell in love with the dish. True or not, it was a fun story to read.
This stew is a very simple beef stew. It only requires six ingredients; marbled beef, olive oil, wine, garlic, salt and pepper. As it cooks, watch your heat so the wine doesn’t cook off too quickly. The wine should cook down, but you don’t want it to cook all the way off. You also want the meat to get to the point that it’s basically falling apart.
This dish is total comfort food. It was highly popular in this house. In fact, Bill looked at me with a big smile on his face and said, “Yeah, you can make this again.” We chose to serve our stew over mashed potatoes since it’s so rich, but it would also go well with crusty bread and a nice side salad. Give it a try, you won’t regret it. Mangia!
PEPOSO ALLA FORNACINA (FLORENTINE BEEF AND PEPPER STEW)
Cook Time: 3 hours
Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole or stockpot. Brown the diced meat on medium heat. When the meat is browned all over, add the peeled garlic cloves, peppercorn sachet and red wine. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a gentler simmer. Cook covered for 2 hours. Remove lid, add salt and cook on low-medium heat for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, to reduce cooking liquid. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.
Remove peppercorn sachet and serve.
Recipe from Italy Magazine