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Changing our ways with meat

We live in an affluent era marked by an increasingly fraught relationship to food, and meat is arguably the most controversial ingredient. The Ethical Omnivore explores the solution: living with a conscience; asking the right questions of whoever sells you meat or of the labels you read; and learning how to respect the animal so much that you’re willing to cook something other than chicken breast . . .

Dan’s peposo

Feeds: 10–12 | Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus marinating | Cooking time: 3 ½ hours

“Peposo is a rich, heavily peppered beef stew from Tuscany, made with the local red wine. At Don Peppino’s we finish it with crispy lardons to make it even more banging and delicious. Any succulent piece of braising beef will work. We use a combo of beef neck/chuck and rib or short rib meat.” — Dan Johnstone, chef and restaurateur

Ingredients

1 kg boneless beef neck, cut into large cubes

1 kg boneless short rib, cut into large cubes

40 g freshly ground black pepper, plus extra to serve

110 ml olive oil

2 brown onions, thinly sliced

2 carrots, sliced

2 celery stalks, sliced

250 g button mushrooms, sliced

100 g tomato paste

1 litre red wine

6 thyme sprigs

1 litre chicken stock

200 g (7 oz) guanciale (available from select delicatessens), cut into lardons about the size of a pinkie finger.

Method

Place beef in a large bowl and cover with pepper — more than you think is healthy — and some salt. Marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 150°C.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan over medium–high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery, and sauté for about 10 minutes, getting some nice deep, golden-brown colour action. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 10 minutes or until soft and sweet.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over high heat and sauté mushrooms for 2–3 minutes until golden. Add mushrooms to vegetables and add tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes, then add wine and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until wine is reduced by about half.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a separate large frying pan over high heat. Sear beef in batches, turning, for 5–10 minutes or until deeply browned on all sides, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, and transferring each batch to a large roasting tin or casserole dish.

Pour vegetable and wine mixture over the beef, and add enough chicken stock to just cover. Cover tightly with a lid or foil, place in the oven and cook for about 3 hours, checking occasionally. You want the meat tender and soft but not completely falling apart.

Add guanciale to a small cold frying pan with 2 teaspoons oil. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until fat renders and guanciale is crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel. When beef is ready, lift the meat out of the pan. Strain the braising liquor through a fine strainer, season to taste, then pour the liquor back over the meat. Stir in the guanciale and serve.

SLOW-COOKED SUCCULENCE: Dan’s Peposo is comfort food in a casserole dish, finished off with crispy lardons.
The Ethical Omnivore by Laura Dalrymple and Grant Hilliard. Published by Allen & Unwin