Fratelli Perata Winery

Peposo via Bill Buford's Heat

Well, it is just wonderful when we chat with our visitors. New wine club member Louise Gardner sent us a marvelous book, Heat, by Bill Buford. It begins with the chronicles of his stint as a line cook for Mario Batali in New York. He then moves on to Italy, working at one point for a distinguished butcher. Casually mentioned during this escapade is an ancient Tuscan-Italian food, Peposo. This is the simplest and most delicious main course possible, providing you own either a crock pot or an open hearth fireplace in which to hang a cauldron or at least an oven and a watchful, patient eye.

2 beef shanks
Huge amount of pepper, I used 1/4 cup freshly ground
Salt, your favorite gourmet, sea salt or kosher
3 cloves garlic
Big Red Wine, I used 1 bottle of Cabernet. Use enough to submerge the shanks

In the 1500's this was all placed in a pot, hung over the fire at night when you went to bed. It cooked slowly undisturbed for the next 16 hours. I replicated this by placing it all in a crock pot; put it on high heat the first hour, then on low for the next 15 hours. Bill Buford cooks his in the oven, hot to start, then 200 degrees for 12 hours. Don't feel compelled to brown the meat, don't use any oil for the pot, don't sauté the garlic, don't add any vegetables. This is Simple.

When done, the meat has fallen from the bone, has become completely saturated by the wine, and is not a piece of meat, but a bowlful of rich, luscious essence of beef. It is beyond a stew. It does not seem wine-y, fatty, or even peppery; everything is in balance.

Serve with a great Baguette, a salad with Blue Cheese crumbles and a bottle of Fratelli Perata Cabernet Sauvignon. How simple, yet how decadent.