This recipe for Greek beef stew, also known as Stifado, is a hearty, sweet and savory comfort food full of rich bright flavor!
Approximately one million years ago when the Southern husband and I were young and foolish, we had a lot less, well, stuff than we have now.
We had one television, one car, one teeny antique house and no hound dog. We didn’t have Iphones or digital cameras or laptops. (Neither did anyone else…we are talking the Dark Ages here. We are talking pre-Internet. We are talking phones with curly cords. )
One thing that we DID have, however, was a very fine cast iron cooking pot, which has somehow escaped over the years.
We loved that pot, and among other things we made this wonderful Greek stew over and over and over in it, so whenever I make it these days it zaps me back to those olden days.
The Southern husband looks almost exactly the same. That toddler in his arms is now MARRIED and a fourth grade teacher. (WHAT??)
Anyway, I’ve since acquired a dutch oven to make this family favorite in, and it still tastes just as exotically wonderful as it did back in the days when we were eating it at our wobbly first kitchen table.
It’s official name is Stifado, and it is traditionally made with lamb, but since lamb was outside of our budget back in the day we made it with good old beef chuck and it turns out just fine that way.
What sets this stew apart from the more traditional varieties are all the simply lovely things it cooks with: cinnamon sticks, red wine, balsamic vinegar, raisins, orange peel, cumin and a few other delightful things.
Instead of the traditional carrots and onions this stew features tiny white onions, and when you serve it you scatter some feta cheese on top. And I am THERE for that!
Here’s how to make Greek Beef Stew, otherwise known as Stifado!
Heat a quarter cup of olive oil in your favorite heavy stew-making pot over medium high heat and sear the beef until browned on all sides. Remove beef and set aside.
Add a peeled and chopped sweet onion to the pot and stir for one minute. Add a couple cloves of minced garlic and stir for another minute.
Add a cup of red wine, a couple tablespoons each of balsamic vinegar and brown sugar and three tablespoons of tomato paste and stir until combined.
Add a teaspoon each of cumin, cloves and cinnamon and a couple of bay leaves, a half cup of raisins, some fresh orange peel and the browned meat and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, turn heat to medium low, cover and cook for one hour.
Add a cup and a half of thawed pearl onions, stir and cook for another hour. Serve garnished with a little feta cheese.
Okay, maybe more than a little.
More tips for making Greek Beef Stew!
They are waiting for you in the frozen food section of your grocery store – all peeled and cooked and everything! Thaw them out before you use ’em.
Well, it DOES add a little something something to the taste, but if you really need to leave it out you can sub in chicken broth for the wine.
As with every other beef stew on the planet, this one is fabulous a day or even two later, as the flavors deepen. Bring it to room temperature and slowly reheat it one the stovetop with a little chicken broth to loosen it up if you need it.
Depending on what I have hanging around in my pantry, I will serve this over rice, or orzo pasta, or even polenta.
This concludes my walk down Recipe Memory Lane. What’s the meal that takes YOU back across the years?
Updated (and made even more delicious!) from a previously published Framed Cooks post!