For some reason our local shop has started offering comparatively cheap game meat relatively regularly. This time they sold stewing bits of moose cheaper than beef.
Foodstuffs I don’t normally buy, like game, come with enough sense of occasion to also provoke a blog post, which is why this is the third installment of game meat in a short amount of time. Also, game is a bit more friendly to the environment (if not to the individual moose) than domesticated and factory-farmed meats.
I’ve had my eyes on the classic Tuscan dish Peposo for a few years now, but never actually cooked it. Legend has it the dish was invented by furnace workers who made terra-cotta tiles for the Florence cathedral. Cheap beef cooked in local Chianti wine in terra-cotta pots for hours on end. In other words, high foodie fashion some 500 years later.
It’s always fun when there’s a schism regarding original recipes. Modern recipes contain lots of tomatoes, but the dish would have originated in pre-columbian times, when tomatoes were only found in South America. I decided for something in between – adding a small spoon of tomato paste for deeper umami flavor.
Personally I also wonder about the amount of pepper. As far as I know pepper was very very expensive during the renaissance. Would labourers (albeit skilled) really be able to afford that amount of pepper just for an everyday stew with cheap cuts of beef? Will have to look into that…
The ingredient list is very short: Meat, Chianti, black pepper, garlic (and tomato paste). Peposo isn’t a subtle dish. For a pound of moose I used half a head of garlic, a pint of wine and ten grams of pepper (substituting half the amount for long pepper which has more spicy notes that go well with game). In an embarrassing fit of illiteracy I ground the pepper up instead of using it whole like the recipe I used for reference said. The result was quite hot, but still enjoyable.
Top-left image: Everything combined in cast iron pot and brought to a boil while the oven heats to 150° C. Top-right: Pot after an hour in the oven. Bottom-left: the two hour mark. Bottom-right: Decided to declare dinner after three and a half hours.
According to the interwebs common side dishes for peposo are sautéed spinach and beans. I decided on a slightly more Swedish option and creamed some savoy cabbage. Grilled bread is also an important part of the peposo experience.
Moose peposo smeared on bread, with creamed savoy cabbage and what was left of the wine.
Final thoughts on this moose peposo: The meat was very lean. A fattier cut would probably have done favours for the flavours. To accompany the moose I went for a quite robust type of Chianti. A lighter wine would probably have been better. Even though there seems to be quite a lot of garlic in this dish, it disappeared completely. (might not have done so if the pepper wasn’t ground)