Stifado (a Greek stew)

19 May

This is every cook’s opinion –
no savory dish without an onion,
but lest your kissing should be spoiled
your onions must be fully boiled.
-Jonathan Swift

Recipe source: California Wine Lover’s Cookbook, by Malcolm Hebert

For the past two years-ish, I’ve been a part of a wonderful monthly cooking club called Gourmet Friends. At the beginning of each year we vote on themes, then throughout the year we take turns hosting in our homes and everyone brings a dish based on a decided theme. A couple weeks ago, our theme was cooking with wine, and I made this dish. (Jump to recipe.)

I wasn’t sure initially if I was going to blog this, as it wasn’t my favorite. But that’s not any fault with the recipe – I’m just not much into stews, and lately I haven’t been inclined to eat much beef. The recipe is actually very flavorful, the meat is tender, and the cinnamon gives it that heavenly, uniquely Mediterranean touch. It’s also easy-peasy to make. So I figured, someone might like this dish. I don’t have to endorse every recipe I post, because we all have different tastes! 🙂

Now let’s get to it! Begin by chopping up some onions, like so:


Next, season some basic stew meat with some basic salt and pepper.

stew meat

Normally when I cook, I like to get one or two processes in motion, then prep the rest. But in this case, it’s better to do everything at once, since you’ll just be throwing it all together and leaving it for three hours while you [fill-in-the-blank].

In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, red wine, brown sugar, minced garlic, cumin, whole cloves, raisins or other dried fruit, a bay leaf, and a cinnamon stick.

wine mixture

I used a Dutch oven for this, but any large pot would work. Melt butter in the pot, then add the meat and coat with the butter. Immediately add the chopped onion over the top of the meat, then pour over the wine mixture, cover, and simmer for three hours.


Enjoy the warm, spicy, meaty aroma…

Imagine the magical childhood you could have had in Greece, but didn’t…

Think about someday making this for your hearty stock of offspring…

And when three hours have passed, take off the lid of your pot and behold your stew!


RECIPE – Stifado, a Greek stew

3 1/2 lbs. lean beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 lbs. small onions, peeled
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
3/4 cup dry California red wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons currants or raisins

Season meat with salt and pepper. Melt butter in Dutch oven or heavy flame-proof casserole. Add the meat and coat with butter but do not brown.

Arrange the onions over the meat. Mix together all the other ingredients and pour over the meat and onions.

Cover and simmer gently until meat is very tender, about 3 hours, or bake covered in a 300-degree oven until meat is very tender. If baked, check occasionally to see that sauce is not becoming too dry. Add a little more wine if necessary. Stir gently just before serving.

Serves 6.

5 Responses to “Stifado (a Greek stew)”

  1. Lillian May 19, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    Wow this really does look like an easy one but still hearty. So did you cut the onions the way you learned in class? 😉

  2. Jen May 19, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    Why, yes I did! 😀

  3. Tes May 19, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    It looks so delicious. I love trying new cuisines. I love this recipe, I really can’t wait to try it.

  4. Jen May 21, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    Looking forward to the hearty stock of offspring. 🙂

  5. JASMINE September 28, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    You hit the nail on the head, as they say … I had this stew growing up !! Oh, oh, what pleasant memories that brings.. Let me thank you in Greek, if I may..


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