Stifatho (Greek Beef Stew)

Stifatho  (Greek Beef Stew)
Stifatho is a dish often made during the winter months. It’s worth making this dish a day before as the flavours have more time to submerge and become more aromatic and tasty. Normally I serve this with orzo pasta, but sometimes just with chunky bread to mop up the juices. If preferred, Greek yogurt can be served on the side along with a simple green salad dressed in olive oil and lemon.

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 kg stewing or braising beef cut into large cubes
400g small shallots peeled and left whole
2 medium onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 glass of red wine
3 tbsp of red wine vinegar
1 vegetable stock cube
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
A pinch of nutmeg


1. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy based casserole pan and seal the meat gently.

2. Once sealed remove the meat onto a plate and gently fry the sliced onions and garlic until soft. Remove from the pan.

3. Add the whole shallots to fry in the same pan, but do not let them to lose their shape. Remove from pan and set aside.

4. Return the sealed meat, sliced onions and garlic but not the shallots back to the pan, and add tinned tomatoes and paste. Stir well before adding wine, wine vinegar, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cloves, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for about ten minutes.

5. Pour in sufficient water to cover the meat and crumble in the stock cube. Cover and continue to simmer the meat for 1 hour.

6. After 1 hour add the whole shallots and continue to cook on a low heat for at least another 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender and the sauce thickens.

Instead of tinned chopped tomatoes you can use fresh ripe tomatoes (x 4).
When using bay leaves I make a small tear on the side, to release the oils and make the dish more aromatic.

If I don’t have red wine vinegar in the store cupboard I use ordinary vinegar, but reduce the amount to two tablespoons.

When making this dish, keep an eye on the water level and add a little more water if necessary.

Take out the cloves before serving.

Instead of small shallots , you can use small pickling onions.

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