For me, the basic peppercorn often gets overlooked as an actual ingredient. I mean, we add it to basically everything as a seasoning but, on its own, it adds a potent level of flavour to a tomato-based braise. After being lucky enough to visit Tuscany this year, I noticed they cook a lot of their beef this way. It’s something I’ve begun doing at home (and wondering why I didn't do it sooner, to be honest). Cooking meat like this really does allow for the whole put-it-in-the-oven-and-forget-about-it style that appeals to me. As a result, there’s a good chance you might find a pot of this in the oven if you swing past our house on a Sunday. I don't even bother with vegetables in the mix here. This is a pure celebration of the beef and the flavours are intense enough to carry it. If you REALLY wanted to impress, you’d use beans soaked overnight but… let’s face it… that’s not always the kind of planning we have in place for a weekend. Chuck is my pick for this dish but cubed brisket, bolo, thick flank or even heel could work.
What you’ll need:
800g beef chuck, cubed.
800g x tinned tomatoes
4 - 5 cloves garlic, crushed
A few sprigs of thyme
A few sprigs of rosemary
2 x tablespoons whole black peppercorns, cracked in a pestle and mortar (put them in a clean dish towel and hit them with anything hard if you need to)
500 ml red wine
1 x tablespoon tomato paste
800g x butter beans, drained and rinsed
What you’ll do:
1. Preheat your oven to 140 Degrees Celsius. Heat the oil in a heavy, deep pot. Brown the beef cubes for about 3 - 4 minutes.
2. Add all of the other ingredients to the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.
3. Cover and cook in the oven for about 4 hours. Remove pot. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat and set aside. Cook sauce uncovered over a very gentle heat until it has thickened to the point where you’re happy. Add the meat towards the end of cooking.
4. Gently warm your beans in a pan.
4. To serve, spoon meat into deep bowls with the beans alongside. Garnish with parsley.