Peppered Beef with Balsamic Vinegar, Molasses and Garlic


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a main meal

Appears in

A glorious lip-smacking stew with rich, chestnut-brown, glossy gravy – perfect for winter weekends. It is hot and peppery but also slightly sweet, and balanced by a welcome touch of sharpness from the vinegar and red wine.


  • shin of beef 1.3 kg/3 lb, cut into 4 cm/ in chunks
  • sea salt tsp
  • olive oil 3 tbsp
  • red wine 400 ml/14 fl oz
  • beef stock 300 ml/½ pint, preferably home-made
  • tomato purée 3 tbsp
  • pickling onions 450 g/1 lb, peeled
  • garlic cloves 6, peeled and left whole
  • black peppercorns 2 tsp, cracked
  • fresh bay leaves 4
  • thyme, dried oregano or winter savory (or a mixture) 2 tbsp
  • short pasta shapes such as rigatoni or maccheroni, to serve

For the Marinade

  • blackstrap molasses or strong honey 3 tbsp
  • balsamic vinegar 4 tbsp
  • black peppercorns 2 tbsp, cracked
  • garlic cloves 3, crushed


Stir the marinade ingredients together in a shallow bowl. Add the meat, making sure it’s evenly coated. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2–24 hours – the longer the better. Give it a stir every so often.

Tip the meat and marinade into a sieve set over a bowl. Reserve the liquid and season the meat with the sea salt. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and fry for 5–7 minutes, turning with tongs until browned and the juices are starting to evaporate. Transfer the meat to a large ovenproof casserole – a 4 litre/7 pint one should be big enough.

Pour the wine and the reserved marinade into the frying pan. Bring to the boil, scraping up any sediment with a wooden spoon, and boil for 2–3 minutes. Add the beef stock and tomato purée. Cook for another minute, then pour this over the meat.

Add the onions, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves and your chosen herbs to the pot. Bring to the boil, then cover with a well-fitting lid, place the casserole in the oven and leave to simmer gently for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Have a look after 1½ hours and check that there’s enough liquid. The juices should be thickened and slightly reduced but not drying out. If necessary, top up with a splash of stock or water.

Serve with rigatoni or maccheroni which you have anointed with plenty of butter and chopped flat-leaf parsley.