HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Bill Buford's "Peposo notturno" beef shank recipe

  • 41
  • Share

Has anyone tried making Bill Buford's "Peposo notturno" beef shank recipe from Heat? It's just beef shank, pepper, garlic, salt, and a bottle of Chianti, slow cooked for about 8 hours. He says, "The taste is a revelation: it seems impossible that something so deeply flavored can be made with so little."

Here's the recipe, as best I can tell (it's embedded in the prose):

Peposo notturno (= pepperiness by night)

2 beef shanks
4 heaping tablespoons of black pepper (his butcher added even more!)
1 tablespoon of sea salt
A bulb of garlic (I'm guessing peeled cloves, but he doesn't say)
1 bottle of Chianti

Put everything in a pot (covered? I'd assume so). Start oven hot then turn down to 200 degrees. Cook overnight (8 hours? 12 hours? He says "after four," then "over the course of the next eight hours" so that might be in addition to the four hours already mentioned.)

"...finally, as a point between a solid and a liquid, it is peposo. It smells of wine and lean meat and pepper. You serve it with a rustic white bread and a glass of simple red"

I think I'll have to get me a beef shank....

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. This sounds a lot like a crock pot meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: yayadave

      If you are making it in a crockpot, halve the wine - hey, makes more to drink! I'm thinking that it is a thing I'd do on low in my crockpot overnight (a big energy bill saving) and then reduce everything on stovetop or in a slow oven afterwards.

      There are some small butchers and grocery stores of various ethnic origins, here in Montréal, that often have good buys on beef shank. I watch for the sales at (Greek) Supermarché PA.

      I'm not a big red-meat eater, but make this dish as a treat for a friend who is (she is from Argentina).

      Why no onions? I'd definitely add onions to this dish.

    2. Nope, but I just finished the book on a flight today and my husband and I were talking about trying that recipe. I'm certainly guessing you peel the cloves as it sounds like you eat the meat still in the sauce as opposed to removing it from the sauce.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Nehna

        helpful clarification from him in an interview:

        Q: Do you have a favorite recipe?

        A: I usually have food obsessions that coincide directly with the seasons. I’m answering these questions on a warm spring morning, so my current food is ramps, the wild leeks that come from the wild areas of upstate New York, but, in a week or so, the ramps will start getting woody, and I’ll be on to the next thing: peas, probably, which offer twenty-five different possibilities (with mint and lemon zest and olive oil, pureed into a summery soup, or served with pea shoots and guanciale and home-made pasta). My favorite meat thing continues to be peposo, the peppery beef dish I learned when I worked in the butcher shop in Tuscany, just because it’s so simple and so surprising and so resoundingly healthy-seeming every time I prepare it. I get two shanks (pretty cheap—they’re not a trendy cut), bone them (or, better, have the butcher butcher bone them), trim off as much connective tissue as I can, cutting the meat into bite size chunks, plop it into a pot, add a whole garlic (chopped up), about three tablespoons of coarsely ground pepper, one tablespoon of salt, a bottle of good chianti, and put it into the oven at low-to-medium temperature (about 225°F), and don’t take it out until the next morning. At home, we eat it while drinking a bottle of the same wine we cooked the meat in. It’s transporting.

        1. re: Nehna

          Oh, that's great, thanks!

          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

            My peposo is simmering away in my oven as we speak. I started it about a half hour ago and plan to let it cook the day/evening away, and have it tonight around 8:30. I figure 9 hours is a good solid imitation of it cooking over night :)

            1. re: Nehna

              Do report back on how it does!

              I find the cooking overnight instruction confusing. I mean, when does he expect we're going to eat it the next day? For breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? There's several hours difference there. Do you take it out in the morning and reheat it when you're ready for it? And just when do you start it for the overnight cooking? Dinnertime the day before? Just before going to bed?

              I wish recipe writers would just give the range of hours they actually mean: 8-12 or 20-24, whatever!

              1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                As with any braised meat dish, timing depends on the cut of meat, and temperature of the oven (or flame). Apparently the original was cooked in a covered pot in a tile-firing kiln, in the after-work hours, as the oven cooled down. In a well sealed pot, timing is not critical. For a start, I would suggest the same time that you use for pot roast. If your meat has more gristle than your typical chuck roast, you might want to cook it longer.

                Dishes like this also improve in flavor as they sit. So it is perfectly reasonable to cook it in the evening, then put it away in the fridge, and rewarm it for the next day's dinner.

                I'm thinking of trying a quick version of this in the pressure cooker. L Sass recommends 15 minutes for cubed stew meat, 60 for oxtails and whole chuck roast.

                paulj

                1. re: paulj

                  I just made a modest batch of this soup/stew, roughly following the recipe at
                  http://italianfood.about.com/od/beefv...

                  I had two 1" slices of beef shank, a bit under 2 lbs, which I cut into several large pieces. I briefly browned these with a diced carrot, a diced celery rib, 1 shallot, and 4 or so cloves of garlic. Then I added about 1T of coarsely ground black pepper, some salt, a cup of left over pork stock, a generous splash of wine (white from the fridge), and some crushed tomatoes (1/2c or so).

                  I cooked this in the pressure cooker for 10 minutes at pressure, followed by natural cooling. The meat was tender, though the connective tissue was still a bit chewy. Since it was still a hour to dinner I let it continue to simmer, adjusting seasonings - another 1/2T of crushed pepper corns, salt to taste, and thickened with a flour slurry. Toward the end I also skimmed some of the fat off the top.

                  I served it with thick slices of toasted crusty rosemary bread, and a chickpea salad. The stew was very good, well flavored with a modest peppery bite. The connective tissue was tender enough to fall off the bone.

                  And yes, I reserved the marrow bones for the cook. This stew makes me think of a rustic version of osso buco. I bet it would also be good way of fixing ox tail.

                  paulj

                  1. re: paulj

                    That's a rather different dish from Buford's, esp in the amount of pepper involved as well as the variety of flavors.

                    That said, in my opinion, you made the right decision. I pretty much followed Buford's recipe to the letter other than cooking it over the course of the day instead of overnight. We wanted to like it, but found the pepper incredibly overpowering even 8 hours in, and I can't see how that would change with a few more hours of cooking. It overwhelms the sauce and the flavor of the meat with his recipe. I mean it's really absolutely all you taste.

                    We ended up throwing it in the fridge to be doctored up the next time with some more cooking with the addition of some tomato, etc, to see if it becomes more palatable.

                    I'm surprised and disappointed...felt like a waste of a day of cooking, something which I love to do more than most things, but sucks when there's no reward ;)

                    1. re: Nehna

                      OK I checked out Heat from the library. It looks like the version I worked from (but did not follow exactly) is the boeuf bourguignon-like one, from the northern Tuscan coast. The other one on about.com (with photos) is close to the Impruneta version that Buford describes.

                      Given the very long cooking time, I am a bit surprised that Buford (and his mentor) makes a big deal about cutting up the shin. With that time I think it would fall apart on its own. However I don't think I've ever seen a whole beef shank - I'm imaging a much larger version of a lamb shank.

                      The 4 T of pepper that Buford uses is about half of what the about.com version describes (1/4+ cup v 1/2+ cup).

                      The long low cooking probably darkens the sauce more than my shorter pressure cooking. It also must reduce it more. It might also be better at developing flavor, but so far I've been happy with the results of these fast PC 'braises'. With care the meat texture seems to be just as good.

                      paulj

                      1. re: paulj

                        paulj: Finally somebody mentions the weirdness of getting so finicky about the prep of the beef. I mean, if they're cooking for hours and hours, they'll be pretty tender and falling apart anyway.

                        This recipe reminds me of Paula Wolfert's Slow Med. cookbook.

                      2. re: Nehna

                        I just finished off the left overs. The pepperiness was stronger, in part due to the resting time, but also because I was eating more of sauce and pepper from the bottom of the pot.

                        In sum I think 1T of coarse ground pepper per pound of meat is about right. It makes a dish that is peppery without being overwhelming.

                        It occurred to me that this dish is like an Italian chili. It's a rustic, working man's dish (in origin), can be made with varying degrees of heat, and can range from the simple to the elaborate.

                        paulj

                  2. re: Karen_Schaffer

                    Well I had a peak at 5 hours and its very very very peppery indeed. I did some reading online and some who have tried his recipe have decided to remove the meat at the end and then reduce down the sauce way down before putting the meat back in to serve.

                    As Paul said below, I think it's really just a matter of patience. Anything cooked over 5 hrs in my opinion is going to be very melting...beyond that, the difference will probably be more subtle. That said, I have a friend who cooked lamb shanks for 3 days and they were amazing.

            2. re: Nehna

              About.com has this recipe
              http://italianfood.about.com/od/beefv...
              Improneta's Peposo
              The garlic is peeled.
              The meat is cut up, but not necessarily lean
              The pepper can be ground or whole - ground produces a more peppery flavor
              This version uses tomato sauce, and adds the wine for the last half of cooking.

              paulj

            3. I think I will transport myself this weekend

              1 Reply
              1. re: frankiii

                Lidia just made this on her show about the Maremma..look for the repeat if you did not see it...the episode is called Galloping Figs, or something similar. She serves the peposo with cannellini beans. The garlic is chopped and put on top of the meat in the pot, without browning first.

              2. So is this supposed to be 4 heaping Tablespoons of cracked Black Pepper or is it whole peppercorns?

                4 Replies
                1. re: Homero

                  "about three tablespoons of coarsely ground pepper" per my quote from Buford above.

                  That's what I used, and as I said, to my taste it was crazy overpowering.

                  I did read somewhere that some prepare it with whole peppercorns and that it makes the pepper taste more subtle. I'm not to sure what that means for serving...i.e. if you end up with a dish littered with peppercorns that may or may not be nice to eat at that stage.

                  1. re: Nehna

                    The other variable in this is the amount of meat. I have found shank 'steaks' (1" thick slices), and shank 'banana' pieces (deboned 'fillets'), but not whole shanks - this is in an Asian market. The 'about.com' recipes that I found use 1T ground pepper for 1 lb of beef (plus a pig foot), or 1/2c for 5 lb of meat (the simpler, more authentic recipe). On option is to start with half the quantity, then taste and add more as needed at a later point.

                    http://italianfood.about.com/od/beefv...
                    "Next, add the pepper. Chef Cristoforo went by eye, and I'd say he added a bit more than a half cup of ground pepper.

                    This brings up a point: If you make Peposo with ground black pepper it will pack a considerable fiery zing. If you instead use whole peppercorns (increase the volume by about a third to compensate for the air between the peppercorns) the Peposo will be more delicate, with rich peppery aromas, but pack less punch. The choice is up to you."

                    paulj

                    1. re: paulj

                      Does anyone happen to have the Lidia Italy book on hand? I am curious as to how her recipe differs from the Buford recipe..

                      1. re: paulj

                        That's a good point, Paul. That said, the other ingredients, particularly the amount of wine, is still a constant...so even though you'd have more meat in the liquid, I wouldnt think it would change the flavor of the sauce so much that I would have been happy with the result? The sauce itself was still just way overboard on pepper. Heck, maybe it's a personal taste thing, but my husband agreed with me. And we both love spicy food, so it wasnt that it was too spicy. Just too overwhelming peppery....and pepper flavor is something I adore... in carbonara for instance.

                  2. I made this yesterday but used Rioja and only about 1 and 1/2T of pepper. It was great. I served it over polenta with some grated cheese. Delicious. Though, I wish the sauce had been a bit thicker.

                    1. Read the book and loved it. Thanks for filling in the blanks. I'd like to add just one thing though. I have a pot of this recipe in the oven as we speak. I made the mistake of filling it almost to the top with the wine mxture. Heated the oven to 500 degrees, put the meal in and decided to let it cook at 500 for 20 minutes or so before turning it down. 15 minutes later, a huge flame shot out of the oven!!! It blew the door open!!! When I composed myself, I gingerly opened the door and the wine was at a rolling boil. I guess some of it dripped over the side and hit the red-hot element. No damage, just a palpatating heart beat!

                      Do not over-fill!!!

                      1. i reazd book and have made dish 4 times. cut garlic in half without peeling. start in over at 350 for 45 minutes then lower to 200 overnight. terific. also see this version from jamie oliver

                        * 5 1/2 pounds beef or veal shin, on the bone (see header notes)
                        * 20 garlic cloves, peeled
                        * 4 heaping TBSPS freshly ground black pepper
                        * Sea salt
                        * 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
                        * 2 bottles of Chianti or other fruity red wine
                        * 2 bay leaves

                        Directions

                        1. Slice your meat into chunky slabs and get it all of the bone. Preaheat the oven to 300 F. Get a large roasting pan, just big enough to hold all the ingredients. Place a layer of your lsiced meat at the bottom of the pan, cover with a few whole cloves garlic, then sprinkle well with one tablespoon of pepper and a little salt.
                        2. Add a sprig or two or rosemary, then repeat with another layer of beef and keep layeing the ingredients like this until they're used up and the pot is almost ful.
                        3. Pour the wine over the top, add the bone and bay leaves, and top up with water if necessary to cover the meat.
                        4. Bring to a boil, cover thightly with a double-thickness layer of aluming foil, and place in the preheated oven for 6 hours or until tender. If you want to cook the stew overnight (as many Italians do), lower the temperatur to 275 F and it can cook for 8 hours or more, until the meat is tender and falling apart. Make sure the aluminum foil is well sealed, as this will keep all the moisture inside the pot.
                        5. When the stew is done, take off the foil, skim off any fat from the surface of the stew, and remove the bone, the bay leaves, and the rosemary twigs. The meat should be really soft and the juice light but rich and powerful in flavor. Taste and season if you think it needs it.
                        6. Then, break the meat up with a spoon and serve a ladleful of the stew on a hot toasted brushetta with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
                        7. Or, you can serve with simply boiled carrots and new potatoes and kale.
                        8. Would also be lovely with some polenta and a drizzle of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

                        * 5 1/2 pounds beef or veal shin, on the bone (see header notes)
                        * 20 garlic cloves, peeled
                        * 4 heaping TBSPS freshly ground black pepper
                        * Sea salt
                        * 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
                        * 2 bottles of Chianti or other fruity red wine
                        * 2 bay leaves

                        Directions

                        1. Slice your meat into chunky slabs and get it all of the bone. Preaheat the oven to 300 F. Get a large roasting pan, just big enough to hold all the ingredients. Place a layer of your lsiced meat at the bottom of the pan, cover with a few whole cloves garlic, then sprinkle well with one tablespoon of pepper and a little salt.
                        2. Add a sprig or two or rosemary, then repeat with another layer of beef and keep layeing the ingredients like this until they're used up and the pot is almost ful.
                        3. Pour the wine over the top, add the bone and bay leaves, and top up with water if necessary to cover the meat.
                        4. Bring to a boil, cover thightly with a double-thickness layer of aluming foil, and place in the preheated oven for 6 hours or until tender. If you want to cook the stew overnight (as many Italians do), lower the temperatur to 275 F and it can cook for 8 hours or more, until the meat is tender and falling apart. Make sure the aluminum foil is well sealed, as this will keep all the moisture inside the pot.
                        5. When the stew is done, take off the foil, skim off any fat from the surface of the stew, and remove the bone, the bay leaves, and the rosemary twigs. The meat should be really soft and the juice light but rich and powerful in flavor. Taste and season if you think it needs it.
                        6. Then, break the meat up with a spoon and serve a ladleful of the stew on a hot toasted brushetta with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
                        7. Or, you can serve with simply boiled carrots and new potatoes and kale.
                        8. Would also be lovely with some polenta and a drizzle of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

                        1. sounds about right but i recall the said don't peel garlic. they disappear.

                          1. I made it for alot of people,

                            4 beef shanks
                            5 T of black pepper (I used whole peppercorns...I could have used more)
                            garlic
                            1 and 1/2 bottle of chinati

                            put in pot , I used a double layer of foil on it and put it in the over at 200 degrees for over 12 hours(I forgot to turn it off at hour 12 and went for 13 hours).

                            everyone loved it.

                            1. My husband and I watched "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" last week on the food channel. One of the items was called Roast Beast from a New York restaurant. I serched the internet trying to find a recipe, and that is when I ran across Bill Buford's Peposo Notturno recipe. I tried it this weekend, and it was truly an adventure from beginning to end. I live in Houston, TX and knew immediately where to go to buy beef shanks, a large meat market catering to modest shoppers. As I walked toward the meat counter, i saw a large display of beef shank cut into 1-1/2" "steaks." I told the person behind the counter that I wanted two beef shanks about 12-14" long. She looked at me like I had lost my mind and tried to sell me the ones in the meat counter. I repeated myself, and she said that she would have to ask the butcher. He came up and talked to me and said that would not be a problem. I asked him to trim some bone off of the small end, and he agreed. In a few minutes, the clerk came back lugging the two beef shanks. Before she wrapped them in butcher paper, she, one last time, tried to sell me the ones that had been cut into steaks. The two shanks weighed in at 14# for both. The shank in the Roast Beast had been tied with butcher's string so that the muscles would stay intact. That is what I did. I placed one shank with the large end toward me in my 12 x 16" roasting pan, and the other one with the small end toward me, and they completely filled up the pan. I cut the top off of the bulb of garlic and set it in the pan. (I threw the garlic away when I pulled the meat out of the over. I wish I had served it as a garnish or for people to squeeze the cloves out. It probably would have been delicious.) Then I browned them and put them, covered, into a 450 oven and turned the temp down to 200 where they stayed for 12 hours. Just before removing from the oven, I sauteed some crimini mushrooms and added to the drippings along with a little more salt. I thickened it with cornstarch mixed with a little cold water, and the gravy was fabulous. The meat was fork tender and had a delicious flavor. I think the problem a lot of people had with too much pepper and wine was that they needed a lot more meat to for that amount of pepper and wine. I served with grits made with 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of cream to 3/4 cup of grits. The next time I will remove some of the marrow from the big bones and add it to the gravy. This will serve 8-10 people and make two dogs very happy with the mammoth bones.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: cmchristie

                                For my latest stab at this dish, I went the other direction, using a package of beef shank scraps that HMart (Korean megamart) was selling for $2/lb. The proportion of connective tissue was higher in the pieces than in the whole shank (often sold in Asian markets as 'banana shank').

                                1. re: paulj

                                  The whole shanks I used cost about $2.35 a pound. I'll look for the banana shanks.

                                  I do have a CORRECTION to yesterday's blog. The recipe (Leg of Beast) I was trying to locate from "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" program was from Aaron Sanchez of Incanto in San Francisco. Has anyone eaten it there?

                                  1. re: cmchristie

                                    A chow search would probably turn up a number of posts mentioning Chris Cosentino. He was a Next Iron Chef contestant in 2007, and Iron Chef challenger as well. The San Francisco board and the Media board are the most likely places. It makes sense the he would produce an outstanding Peposo. There's even a Wiki write up on him.

                                  2. re: paulj

                                    i make beef shank stew often, most frequently with beer. i buy the cuts at an asian grocer for about $1.99 p/p. i keep them on the bone though, so i'm curious that all these recipe want boned cuts. the marrow and gelatin added by the bones make for a very deep flavor.

                                    i've also made "spoon lamb" , which is a leg or shoulder cooked just like this for 7 or 8 hours. awesome dish and white or red wine works.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      The shank has a lot of connective tissue that contributes gelatin even without the bone. Each muscle has a tendon sheath that dissolves under long low cooking.

                                      My gut feeling is that tendons, ligaments, and skin are better sources of gelatin than bones by themselves. Of course the bones are normally encased in some sort of tendon like material.

                                      When I give bones used for stock to my dog, he makes quick work of the spongy material at the ends. But the center rounds, apart from providing marrow, are too hard, and apparently flavorless. He quickly looses interest in those.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        just like a dog won't eat the lettuce if he gets left-over salad. lol.

                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                          Any reason why I couldn't do Buford's stew in a Slow cooker?

                                          1. re: grapsta

                                            I tried beef shanks on the BBQ - in a blue pot oven roaster - at the back - no direct heat - only front burner on super low - 250 deg - 5 hours - wonderful, and outside in this heat.

                                            1. re: grapsta

                                              Overnight in a baker's oven or kiln after the day's work was done, was the original 'slow cooker'.

                                  3. Has anyone tried browning the shanks before cooking, or is the preferred method to cook without browning first? A local H&Y has shanks on sale for .69/lb and I plan on making a LOT of shank stew.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                      You could go either way.

                                      I think the long slow braise develops the same sort of flavors as searing. Even without searing, the resulting stew is just as dark and rich as any pot roast using seared chuck. I doubt if the tile makers would have taken time to sear all the shank meat for their communal pot.

                                      Still, I would not be surprised if a restaurant chef did sear his shanks. Some peposo recipes look a lot like the famous Italian veal shank recipe, with lots of vegetables, and searing at the start.

                                      I just bought a 1.5lb 'banana shank' (boneless muscle from the shank), and have to decide how I want to cook it. I don't have any red wine, so peposo isn't an option. Maybe I'll draw inspiration from a Spanish oxtail recipe.

                                    2. i loved book and especially this recipe. it was neck meat with no bone. don't peel garlic. just cut in half and through in with paper. cook at 345 for 45 minutes and then down to 200 to 225 for 8 hrs or overnight. can eat it with spoon.

                                      1. I made this yesterday. I had approximately 1-1/2" thick slices. I seared in olive oil in a cast iron Dutch Oven while heating the oven to 225 degrees. I removed the paper but didn't peel a head of garlic, chopped barely and put into the pot. I used 2T pepper and 1 T salt. A whole bottle and a litte more of red wine. I didn't have any Chianti on hand so used Zinfandel. Brought it to a boil, covered tightly with foil and then the lid. Cooked for seven hours. I removed the meat from the pot, refrigerated the liquid. Lifted off the fat. Because it was already pretty salty and peppery, I didn't want to reduce it so I thickened it instead. I had some Portobella mushroom stems that I sauteed n butter in a another skillet and then added to the pot. I put the meat back in the pot and reheated gently while finishing up the rest of the meal. It was very good and we have plenty of leftovers.