Post image for Stifatho – A Beef and Onion Stew

Stifatho – A Beef and Onion Stew

by Sava

This is a dish our Mother made fairly often during the winter months. The aroma of this as it cooks was so divine I often thought the whole neighborhood would show up at our door, begging to be invited for dinner. It is a lovely combination of spices, beef or chicken and wine that is so mouth-watering you can hardly wait to have it again once you are done.  You can find this on page 109 of our cookbook. By the way, you can make this with chicken, as well (as you can see in the photo).

1 1/2 lb beef cut in pieces                                          2 c water
1/2 c melted butter                                                      3 T wine vinegar
2 T olive oil                                                                      1 T sugar
2 lbs pearl onions                                                         2 bay leaves
1 t each salt and pepper                                             1/2 t ground cinnammon
3 garlic cloves chopped                                            1/2 t ground cloves
1 c dry red wine                                                            1/4 t cumin
1 6-oz can tomato paste

In a large saucepan heat butter and oil. Brown the meat on all sides, add the onions and garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red wine and simmer for one minute. Mix tomato paste with water, vinegar and sugar. Add to pan with the remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, remove from heat and pour all into a covered casserole dish. Bake in preheated oven for 2 hours at 350 degrees F., until meat and onions are fork tender. After one hour, check pan and add more water if too much liquid has evaporated. The abundance of pearl onions is what gives this dish so much flavor, whether it is beef or chicken! If desired you may serve this over rice, or just in a bowl with fresh-from-the-bakery bread to dunk in the wonderful juice.

We took a ferry to the island of Crete, landing in Chania. Here you can see the Venetian and Ottoman influences of the 17th and 18th centuries. In a harbor-side taverna, we had our first taste of raki, one of the popular liqueurs of Greece. The next day we traveled to Rethymnon along the northern coast of Crete. Before going to our dance seminar in Roustika, we enjoyed this beef and onion stew in Old Town Rethymnon. After dinner there, we struck up a conversation with a Greek dance instructor, who invited us to go with him to a family-run tavern, O Gounas, known for its hearty, no-frills food (too bad we had just eaten), but especially for its authentic Cretan music and dancing. There is more on our experience in this dark, stone cavern-like taverna on page 108 right before the recipe. Wow! What a wonderful night!

Hope you enjoy this. See you next time! Yassou!!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

georgia cone January 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm

What a wonderful night that was!! I even remember our grandfather Sardonis making this Stifatho with his hand-caught pheasant ! So aromatic and as he used to say,”Nostimo”, Delicious! Kali orexi!


Sava January 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I remember that, too. He had so much patience, watching from the window, waiting for a pheasant to walk into his trap. Then he would pull the rope and DONE!!Destined for stifatho! Who needs “pheasant under glass”? We had it on our plates fairly often and loved it! Memories…


Trio January 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm

I’ve made this with lamb. Spectacular over orzo sprinkled with crumbled feta.


Sava January 23, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Hi Trio, Lamb, orzo and feta…it must be fabulous using this recipe! I will try it that way next time I make it!! Thanks for the tip! Yassou!!


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