This Greek beef stew is characterized by the use of lots of onions. I admit, it’s a quiet heavy food, but most tasty, you will lick all your fingers.
Traditionally, this dish is made with small onions about the size of a ping-pong ball or pearl onions. You also can use larger onions, you just cut them in halves or in four, depending on the size. The best size would be not larger than a golf ball. Here in Greece, you can also find ready to use pearl onions in the deep-freezer of the super market. The good thing about it is, that you get away with peeling the onions.
In this recipe I have used Balsamic vinegar and a dry red wine. Traditionally it is cooked with Mavrodafni wine, a sweet Greek red wine from the area of Patras. So, if you do not like to use vinegar, simply replace the total amount of vinegar and wine with the Mavrodafni wine.
In some recipes you may read that all onions are cooked together with the meat. The problem is, that the meat takes quiet long time to get soft, with the result that the onions will disappear completely. This is something we do not want to happen here, as the onions should be visible in this dish.
As meat I recommend beef from the neck, chuck or shank. Ask your local butcher, what he would recommend. You also can make Stifado with chicken meat or rabbit. I recommend to take the meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking. Especially with the beef meat you avoid that your frying oil looses temperature when you add it to the pot and it won’t loose liquid because of the difference in the temperature.
In this recipe you will have to “play” with the heat of your stove. Therefor, I will give the levels of the heat. My stove levels work from 0-9.
You can serve Stifado with French fries, spaghetti or rice.
What you need:
For the meat:
1 kg beef
80 ml olive oil
1 large onion
1 medium carrot
4-5 laurel leaves
1 cinnamon stick
5-6 juniper berries
15 ml Balsamic vinegar
200 ml dry red wine
1-2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cumin powder
650 ml beef broth
200 ml tomato juice
For the onions:
750 gr onions
15 ml Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
50 ml dry red wine
100 ml beef broth
How to prepare:
Cut the meat in cubes of approx. 4 cm. Chop the onion and grate the carrot.
In a large pot heat the olive oil on high (9). Fry the meat in small portions from each side until it took color and set aside.
Reduce the heat on medium (5), add the laurel leaves, cinnamon stick and juniper berries and let fry for 1-2 minutes to develop their flavors.
Add the chopped onions and the carrot and let cook for approx. 10 minutes until tender.
Increase the heat again (7), add the meat and deglaze with the Balsamic vinegar. Let cook for appr. 3 minutes. Then, add the red wine, 1 tsp. of sugar and cumin powder and let boil for 3-4 minutes.
Reduce the heat again (5), cover and let simmer for 1-1,5 hours until meat is tender. If the liquid reduces too much, add some water until the meat is cooked.
While the meat is simmering, in a large pot heat the olive oil on high (9) and add the onions. Reduce the heat (7) and let cook 5-7 minutes. If you use deep-freeze onions you will have to cook them a bit longer.
Deglaze with the Balsamic vinegar, add the sugar, salt and pepper and let cook until the vinegar boiled away.
Add the wine and let cook until the liquid boiled away.
Add the beef broth and let cook on medium heat (5) until onions are soft but not mushy.
When the meat is tender, add the tomato juice. Salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too sour for your taste add some more sugar. Let cook on medium heat (5) for some more 15 minutes.
At the end add the onions and let cook together for some 5-10 minutes.