AUTHENTIC Beef Stifado Stew

Authentic Beef Stifado Stew

Beef Stifado or Stifatho is a wonderful Greek dish. A rich beef stew is cooked with whole onions and potatoes. This is the ultimate easy but rewarding beef stew. Whole onions, potatoes are cooked in a pot (or a slow or pressure cooker) and it is a wonderful one pot meal. This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!

This is my friend Valentina's beef stifado recipe. She is an amazing cook and she often cooks dishes from her Cypriot Greek heritage. We went over to her house one night and she served this incredible Beef Stifado and it was so delicious I asked her for the recipe.

Stifado was brought to Cyprus by the Venetians before the fall of the Ottoman empire. The original stifado did not include tomatoes as they weren't available at the time but after the 16th century tomatoes started to be included in stifado. It's a saucy, rich dish with melt in the mouth meat from slow cooking.

Authentic Beef Stifado Stew

Before I started I wanted to check a few things. Did she put the onions and potatoes in whole? And do the potatoes go mushy if you cook them for 2.5 hours? Valentina told me that the key to beef stifado was don't stir! This will break up the potatoes and onions. It really needs to be left alone!

What sort of beef should I use? You need to use wagyu beef for this stifado. You can use wagyu chuck, gravy or brisket. It will be worth the extra expense.

Can I make this with other meat? Yes, stifado can be made with pork or rabbit too. It can also be made with octopus or tripe.

What to serve beef stifado with? The most common accompaniment to beef stifado is orzo or risoni rice shaped pasta. Valentina also served it with feta stuffed bullhorn peppers and a fennel and leafy green salad with pomegranate dressing. It was all delicious together! I served it with dill and olive oil orzo and some Greek broad beans.

Pressure cooker, slow cooker Stifado: Stifado is great in the pressure and slow cooker because once you brown the beef, everything is just added together and then slow braises together.

For a pressure cooker beef stifado, brown the beef and then add all the ingredients and cook the stew on high for 40 minutes

For a slow cooker beef stifado, brown the beef and then add all the ingredients and cook the stew on high for 8 hours.

Substitute for wine: you can substitute the wine with pomegranate juice or apple juice. You may not need to add sugar once it is cooked.

Authentic Beef Stifado Stew

I want to make this recipe again and I'll try another protein because seriously this is the most hands off recipe that you will ever make and yet it tastes like you laboured hard over it. My next stifado might use chicken or pork. I don't mind rabbit but rabbit meat always look like rabbits as it's usually sold whole and that's a bit confronting for me.

Recently we had a little bunny encounter. We were walking Teddy in Centennial Park and came across an abandoned bunny rabbit all alone. Their owner must have dumped the rabbit along with their crate, a blanket, a bag of food and a water bottle. We tried catching the rabbit but rabbits are legendarily fast and impossible to lure unless you have some suitable rabbit food. We tried contacting WIRES, the park rangers and a local vet and they weren't able to help. It was puzzling because obviously this rabbit was well cared for and had a lovely plush blanket and food and water. I put the story up about the abandoned bunny on my Instagram stories and one follower told me that she had heard of this happening five or six times already.

Authentic Beef Stifado Stew

Then a lovely reader Maria messaged me.

She fosters for a rabbit sanctuary and asked me to pin the location of where we saw the rabbit and they would send someone over to try the lure the bunny. Then Mr NQN told me that morning the crate and blanket were missing while the food was scattered on the ground and the food bag lay on the path a few metres away.

When we went back that afternoon we saw some carrots at the site from the bunny sanctuary people but no bunny. We're still not sure what happened to the bunny - perhaps the rangers took the items (although we can't imagine that they'd leave a plastic bag on the ground). Perhaps poor little bunny was taken by a fox (Mr NQN has seen some enormous foxes in the park). I sort of doubt that the owners had a change of heart because they left the water bottle behind. I guess it's a mystery of what happened to Bunny!

So tell me Dear Reader, what do you think happened to bunny? Have you ever tried beef stifado? Which meat would you use?

Authentic Beef Stifado Stew

Beef Stifado Stew

Did you make this recipe? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott via Valentina Jones

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 2.5 hours

Serves: 4 people

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1kg/2.2lbs. wagyu gravy, chuck or brisket beef
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 500g/1.1lbs small or pearl onions, peeled but kept whole
  • 500g/1.1lbs medium potatoes, peeled (I used Royal Blue potatoes)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cherry tomatoes or 1 tomato
  • 500ml/17flozs. beef stock
  • 185ml/6flozs. white or red wine
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Sugar, salt and pepper for seasoning

To serve:

  • 250g orzo or risoni
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh dill fronds, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

Authentic Beef Stifado Stew

Step 1 - Heat a large cast iron pot with lid to medium heat. Add oil and brown beef, keeping it in large pieces. Do this in two lots so that the beef browns all over. Remove beef from the pot and set aside. Add the cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and bay leaves and heat for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Authentic Beef Stifado Stew

Step 2 - Place the beef back into the pot and add the onions, potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, beef stock, wine, vinegar and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and then gently simmer for 2.5 hours with the lid on or until the beef is very tender. Try not to stir it too much. When it is ready, season with sugar, salt and pepper.

Authentic Beef Stifado Stew

Step 3 - Boil the orzo in plenty of salted, boiling water until al dente (around 10 minutes). Drain and then toss with olive oil and dill. Season and serve along with the beef stifado.

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