Valentine’s Day Dinner :
Crostini with Ricotta, Honey and Lemon Zest (Food 52)
Peposo (Tuscan Peppery Beef Stew) (The Country Cooking of Italy)
Mashed Red Potatoes
Double Chocolate Layer Cake (Food&Wine, originally Ina Garten)
So, I have been looking forward to this meal all week. First off, I made this cake earlier this week and have gradually been eating off it since. It is so rich that you can’t have a slice larger than a thin paperback without going into a diabetic coma. It is one damn good cake and sports the best tasting chocolate frosting I’ve ever eaten…but should only be made if you keep two things in mind. First, the parchment paper isn’t a a suggestion, it is a requirement. If you don’t use it…your cake WILL stick, no matter how well you grease/flour your pan (guilty!). Second, it says two 8-inch round cake pans, but both of mine overflowed in the oven…so use two 9-inch round pans instead. The batter will look watery, but don’t be scared. It will taste great…like pretty much every other recipe Ina Garten makes.
However, best thing on the menu is undoubtedly the Peposo, taken from Colman Andrew’s The Country Cooking of Italy (Chronicle Books, 2011). I have been wanting to make this recipe for a few weeks and finally got to making it. Let me tell you…it is worth the full six hours it takes to cook. It smells amazing while it cooks…the garlic and wine smell is so fragrant as it cooks I could smell it from the street in front of my house.
It requires no cutting and no prep work…aside from smashing some peppercorns with a rolling pin and uncorking a bottle of wine (which who could really call a chore?). You don’t brown the meat first, there are no vegetables to chop for a soffritto and absolutely no olive oil. You just put the meat, the garlic cloves (you don’t even have to peel them), the peppercorns, a cup of tomato sauce and an entire bottle of Chianti in a dutch oven and put it in the oven for 6 hours. Those will be hard hours…your house will smell like an Italian restaurant all day so make sure you have some olives or crostini or a glass of wine to tide you over while you wait.
But the payoff…fork-tender meat in a thickened red wine sauce. You could certainly sop it up with some crusty french bread…but you may want a straw to drink it right off your plate…because you won’t want any of it to go to waste. If you want something delicious this weekend…you know what to make.
You can find recipe in the Google Books preview on page 260 (or search ‘peposo’ once you get to the book preview).