Beef Stifado

The wintery weather was in full effect today, I was thoroughly soaked returning from the supermarket, which left me cold, annoyed and very hungry. I craved something simple, something that would cook itself with little attention from me. This Greek Stifado or stew is really easy. It’s a case of putting everything in the one pot and cooking for 2 hours. The meat is supposed to marinade first, but I didn’t have time, so just cooked it all up. The results were great, but I dare say a bit of marination would have elevated the dish to sublime. You decide.

1kg beef chuck steak (stewing steak) (cut into 4cm cubes)
700g French shallots (peeled)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 bay leaves
4 cloves carlic (thinly sliced)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon allspice
1 piece lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree
1-2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley

Combine together the wine vinegar, red wine, bay leaves, garlic, cinnamon and allspice. Pour it over the beef and leave to marinade for a few hours (or not).

Heat the oil in a large, heavy based casserole pan over a moderate heat. Fry the onions gently for about 10 minutes until they are caramalised on the outside and slightly soft. Remove the onions from the pan. Now add the meat in batches and brown for about 3-4 minutes. Return all the meat to the pan along with the onions and the meat marinade. Add the tomato paste and enough water to just cover everything. Season with the salt & pepper, bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer for a further 30 minutes to reduce the sauce. Remove from the heat when the meat is tender and stir in the parsley. Check for seasoning, remove all the whole spices and serve.

I served mine with good old mashed potato and vegetables, but it’s also fabulous with chips or rice or even just some fresh crusty bread.

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