Some recipes have amusing, or romantic stories for how they came to be, but this peposo isn’t one of them, unless you consider making bad quality beef taste better by covering it in black pepper, amusing or romantic.

As the story goes, the workers who made terracotta tiles in the city of Impruneta, would place this stew into clay pots, and leave it their still-hot kilns overnight, where it would be ready the next morning. Since they were often stuck using less than fresh meat, copious amounts of black peppercorn was used to make the beef palatable.

Luckily, this recipe adapts quite nicely to fresh meat, and produces one of the more uniquely flavored braised beef dishes I’ve ever had. The amount of black pepper is up to you, but even the ridiculous amount I used wasn’t overpowering. The acidity and sweetness of the reduced wine balances everything beautifully.

I hear that beef shank is the traditional cut of meat to use, but short ribs worked really well. You could even use some beef chuck, cut into two-inch pieces, but you’d have to adjust the cooking time. Having said that, forget the time, and keep cooking until a fork goes in easily. Regardless of which cut you use, or how fresh it is, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


  • 6 bone-in beef short ribs (about 8 to 10 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, to coat the beef
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, freshly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 or 4 sage leaves
  • 3 or 4 small sprigs rosemary
  • 2 cups red wine, preferably Chianti
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt, to taste, to adjust sauce


1. Season ribs generously with kosher salt on all sides. Let it sit in a bowl.
2. Pound roughly chopped garlic in a mortar & pestle. Add tomato paste and continue to pound. Add to beef, then massage all over.
3. Crush whole peppercorns, and sprinkle over beef along with ground black pepper, and mix well.
4. Transfer into pot with tight-fitting lid bone-side down. Nestle in sage leave, rosemary, bay leaves, then pour in red wine. Put pot on high heat. Once it is simmering, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 3-1/2 hours, until fork-tender. After the first 1-1/2 hours, turn the ribs every 30 minutes or so.
5. Remove meat, turn heat to high, and reduce braising liquid by half. Meat should be so well-done the bones will simply slide out. Taste sauce for seasoning, then add meat back in. Serve on polenta, pasta, or rice.


If using Morton’s kosher salt, halve the amount.


Chef John


6 servings