Spicy Braised Beef With Polenta, Brasato Speziato Con La Polenta

Though this packs a punch, the sauce and the polenta go together beautifully. Should you prefer it less hot, reduce the pepper content, or use a mixture of whole peppercorns, which provide more aroma and less heat, and ground pepper. Serve it with a good, full bodied red wine that will not be overwhelmed by the pepper, or with beer.

  • A two-pound (1.8 k) piece of beef rump, chuck, or round
  • Butcher’s twine
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • An eight-inch (20 cm) sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) broth, heated to a boil
  • 3 1/4 cups coarsely ground corn meal

Preheat your oven to 360 F (180 C)

Tie the meat with the string. Strip the needles from the sprig of rosemary, and mince them with the sage. Coarsely grind the peppercorns in a mortar, or whirl them in a blender. Mix the pepper, herbs, flour, and salt, and roll the meat in the mixture, pressing it down hard so the mixture sticks to its surface (discard whatever does not).

Heat the oil in an oven-proof pot and brown the meat. Add the brandy, and when it has evaporated, the broth. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Let the meat cook for about three hours, or until done, turning it occasionally. If you want the meat to brown more, uncover the pot for the last hour.

In the old days, making polenta required 40 minutes of stirring the pot on the stove. The microwave oven has changed all this. About a half hour before you plan to serve the meat, salt 1 1/4 quarts of water with 2 teaspoons of salt and bring it to a boil on the stove. In the meantime, put the corn meal in a 2 quart microwave proof bowl. Mix the boiling water into the corn meal, and cook at full power for 18-20 minutes, stirring it around every five (depending on the power of your oven, you may find 10 minutes at full power and ten at half to be sufficient). Let the polenta sit for three minutes, and it is done.

Slice the meat, spoon the juices over the slices, and serve with the polenta.

More Peposo & Other Zesty Things


Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Beef and Veal Stews

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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