Stifado or Sti-fa-th-o as it's pronounced in Greek is a truly flavorful meat stew. Cooked in red wine along with shallots and plenty of sweet spices.
This traditional beef stew is originally made with rabbit. But since beef is more acceptable to most people, is therefore used mostly instead of rabbit.
Having tried both versions of Stifado, I can tell you that both versions are equally good. Rabbit tastes similar to chicken but more flavorful. While beef gives this stew a more rich, meaty flavor. If you would like to try this stew using rabbit you can follow the recipe as given below. The only additional thing to do is to coat the rabbit in flour before searing it in the hot oil.
You can also make this stew with other types of meat like game meat. Such as duck, wild boar, or wild rabbit. Because these types of meat do need wine to become really tender and also lots of spices to coat their strong flavor. That's why this stew is more than ideal for these types of meat. They'll probably need some overnight marinating in wine as well though.
As for this Traditional Beef Stew, the only thing that will actually require some effort is the peeling of the shallots (you may use pearl onions instead). But other than this, it's very easy to make.
To save yourself some tears, dip the shallots in a bowl with cold water before you start peeling them.
How To Make Stifado
You just sear the meat in some olive oil until it gets nice and brown all over, pour in plenty of semi-sweet red wine and water to coat, add the spices, and slow-cook covered for approximately 2 hours.
Then saute the onions in another pan with some olive oil, and once they get nice and golden, stir in the double concentrated tomato paste, cook for 2 minutes more to reduce some of the sourness of the paste, add a splash of water to help scrape off the paste from the pan and add all this into the pot containing the meat. Cook for 45-50 minutes more until onions get really soft and the sauce is lightly thickened.
What To Serve With Beef Stifado
The ideal side dish to beef Stifado is either creamy mashed potatoes (you may try this version of Greek yogurt mashed potatoes) or go classic with these buttery ones. You can also serve it plainly with rice. If you do have some extra time to spend though, I would highly advise serving this stew with a crispy Tiropita (Greek cheese pie), like these quick Tiropita rolls, or this Snail-Shaped Cheese Pie. This way you'll create the perfect crispy contrast to this mellow, melt-in-your-mouth beef stew!
Stifado - Traditional Beef Stew With Shallots
- 1500 grams / 3 lb + 5 oz lean beef for stewing cut in chunks
- 800 grams / 1 lb + 12 oz shallots
- 2-3 cups semi-sweet red wine
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 12-14 pieces of allspice
- 10-12 cloves
- 3-4 dried bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- olive oil
- Add a generous splash of olive oil in a cooking pot and heat over high heat.
- Brown the beef chunks on all sides. Do this by adding the meat in the pot in batches. So the temperature of the oil won't drop, and the meat sill sear properly. After you're done with the first batch, remove the meat from the pot and then add the next batch. Once all the meat is seared and browned all over, add it all back in the pot.
- Pour in 2-3 cups of semi-sweet red wine, and 2-3 cups of water in the pot. The amount of both liquids should be just enough to cover the meat. So whether you're using a wider or more narrow cooking pot you should adjust the amount to 2 or 3 cups (each) accordingly.
- Add the allspice, cloves, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves. Season with kosher salt and ground pepper.
- Reduce heat to low and cover the pot with its lid. Slow cook for approximately 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, cut off the tops and bottoms of the shallots and remove their skins. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let them soak for about 30 minutes and then drain in a strainer. This is done to remove some of their sharp acidity.
- After the meat has slowly cooked for 2 hours, prick with a knife to make sure it's tender enough. Otherwise, cook a bit more.
- Add a splash of olive oil in a skillet or frying pan, and heat over medium-high heat. Toss in the shallots and cook until deep golden all over. Stir in 2 loaded tablespoons of tomato paste, and cook for 2 minutes more, while stirring constantly using a wooden spoon. Pour a good splash of water in the pan to help scrape off the paste from the pan and then add everything in the pot with the meat.
- Shake the pot for the shallots to spread evenly, and once you make sure there is enough liquid in the pot to almost cover everything, slow cook (covered) for another 45-50 minutes.
- Serve with freshly ground pepper on top!
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