Long time ago during you honeymoon trip we traveled for the first time form island to island on Greece. It during our island-hopping that we discovered this warming and comforting dish than can be prepared ahead.
With many other souvenirs we came home with souvenir of this dish and we had to make it for us at home and became one of our favorites!
We made it thousands of times, perhaps for this reason I never wrote down the recipe: I know to make it. Well, every time is different, every time I add or skip something and this dish was never boring for us. As side dish I think I like most plain bulgur, but with rice, small pasta (best orzo also called risoni) or simply some rustic bread works perfect with this tasty dish.
Cinnamon is magic in this dish, I only use the cinnamon I buy in Greece as the quality is so much better, and wine. Don’t skip the wine! Bay leaves are essential for my taste as well!
Other possible additions are oregano, allspice, cloves, rosemary, orange peel and cumin! Cumin gives a completely different note to the stifado and as long you like cumin it is excellent as well.
Lagos stifado (hare, Λαγός στιφάδο) and kuneli stifado (rabbit, Κουνέλι στιφάδο) were probably the original and perhaps better recipe versions of this dish, but beef is very common and I usually have some in the freezer so that I can prepare this anytime. Hare and rabbit were marinated overnight with wine and spices!
I will give you here my basic recipe, the amounts are approximately and for most people I think the quantity of meat have to be doubled.
Feel free to adapt the quantities of meat, onions and spices selection as you like.
You can add carrots and celery as well as other vegetables as well.
You can cook this also in the slow cooker for about 6 hours.
Stifado – Greek Beef Stew
- 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 500-800 g beef, diced for stew
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 piece (about 5 cm) cinnamon
- 3 garlic cloves
- Spices of choice (oregano, allspice, cloves, rosemary or cumin), quantity to taste, optional
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped optional
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5-8 onions about the same weight as the meat
- In the pot heat the oil and fry the meat pieces together with the diced onion until browned on all sides. If the pot is not wide enough fry this into two batches in order to avoid liquids on the bottom of the pot.
- Add vinegar, wine, tomatoes, water bay leaves, cinnamon, garlic and other spices.
- Bring to boil, add parsley, sugar and season with salt and pepper.
- Peel the onions, trim as less as possible as they should not fall apart during cooking.
- Place onions over meat and sauce. Cover and cook at low heat until tender. Usually this takes about two hours.
- If there is still too much liquid before serving remove cover and let cook until you get the consistence you like.