Beef Stifado - The Original Greek Cypriot Stew

Beef Stifado – Greek Beef Stew Recipe

Beef Stifado is one of the most famous Greek Cypriot recipes. There is nothing like a steaming bowl of Beef stifado to warm the soul. A true taste of Cyprus in a bowl..

Beef Stifado is famous the world over for it’s fragrant and unique flavours, one bite of this Greek stew will send your tastebuds to a Greek taverna and have you asking for another bowl of Stifado.. 

Stifado translates as a stew with lots of onions (and I mean lots)! If you want to go really native you can replace the beef with rabbit or octopus but beef Stifado has always been a very popular version.

Check out my video recipe to watch how to make Beef Stifado.

Making a beef stifado is actually really easy although it does take a little time to prepare – but don’t let that put you off – it’s awesome! Plus I’ve also included a few tips and shortcuts  (like how to easily peel baby onions) at the bottom of this recipe – why? Because I’m just so damn nice – that’s why! 🙂

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How many times have you made a beef stew or casserole and it’s just been a bit..’eh’.. tasty enough but a little non-descript? That’s one of the reasons why I love a really good beef stifado – because you know you’re eating it.

Beef Stifado has the unmistakable aromas of cinnamon and black pepper with a little sharpness from the vinegar. The tender, melt in the mouth baby onions left whole and sweet. The beef, soft, succulent, fall-apart-meat and don’t forget the brilliant Greek extra virgin olive oil that envelopes the whole dish.

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Quick fact file:

Q. Difference between a stew and a casserole?

A. Stew is cooked on the stove top, Casserole is cooked in the oven.

Beef Stifado Recipe

Ingredients:

500 gms stewing beef (chopped into 2inch square pieces give or take)

500 gms baby onions or shallots – peeled left whole

Handful halved new potatoes (optional)

1/3 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

3 cinnamon sticks (about 2 inches long)

Few good grates of nutmeg

Dozen black pepper corns

3 bay leaves

3 cloves garlic roughly sliced

5 whole cloves

1/3 glass red wine vinegar

1/2 glass red wine

500 ml stock (or water)

Teaspoon of sugar

Seasoning

Fresh chopped Parsley

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Beef Stifado Method:

  1. In a hot pan add a decent drizzle of olive oil and sear the stewing beef to give some colour (do it in batches so not to overcrowd the pan). Once browned set aside.
  2. Then in the same pan add enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the base of the pan (part of this dish is about enjoying the flavour of the extra virgin olive oil so don’t hold back!). On a medium/high heat add your onions and fry for 5-10 minutes until they start to caramelise then add the sugar.
  3. Quickly after adding the sugar add all the dry ingredients (except the parsley) and fry for a minute before adding the vinegar and wine. Keep on a high heat and reduce by about half.
  4. Now add the beef and pour any juices back into the pan, pour in enough stock to cover three-quarters of the ingredients (you might not use all 500ml of stock) cover and pop into your oven at 160c for 3 hours or into a slow cooker on a low setting for 6/8 hours (or as instructed for stewing steak by the manufacturer).
    Check the stifado hasn’t dried out halfway through cooking and once more near the end.
  5. Once cooked, remove from the oven – this isn’t meant to be a sloppy stew, so if the sauce is too thin simmer on hob to reduce or remove lid 20 mins before the end of cooking.
  6. Once ready add the chopped parsley, season and serve! Goes well with rice or if you’ve added lots of new potatoes just put it straight in a bowl!

Tips & Shortcuts on how to make beef stifado:

Here are a few cheats and tips to make it easier to whip up a Stifado if you are a little pushed for time (it still needs a few hours in the oven but the prep will be quicker)!

  • – peeling baby onions – aaargh! To easily peel whole baby onions, top and tail each onion (leaving the skin on), score a cross in the stalk end (this will help you peel the skin off and they’ll stay whole when cooked!). Put onions in a bowl cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. The skin will easily peel off leaving you with delicious whole baby onions.
  • – if all that sounds like too much trouble you can cheat by simply slicing regular white cooking onions – BUT – if you have the time use the whole baby onions or shallots as they ‘make’ the dish.
  • – if making for children you can omit the black pepper corns
  • – if you haven’t got all the spices don’t panic! As long as you add the cinnamon and vinegar you’ll get a similar (and still delicious) stew.
  • – I’ve added a handful of new potatoes, this isn’t tradition but if making for the family and you want a one pot dish the potatoes can replace making rice.
  • – if you want to use more beef simply increase the amount of onions by the same – the meat and onions should be of equal portions

Goes well with some rustic bread, nice bottle of light red wine and dreaming of sitting at a Greek Taverna!

Beef Stifado - The Original Greek Cypriot Stew
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Beef Stifado

Beef Stifado is one of the most famous Greek Cypriot recipes. There is nothing like a steaming bowl of Beef stifado to warm the soul. A true taste of Cyprus in a bowl..

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 500 gms stewing beef (chopped into 2inch square pieces give or take)
  • 500 gms baby onions or shallots - peeled left whole
  • Handful halved new potatoes (optional)
  • 1/3 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (about 2 inches long)
  • Few good grates of nutmeg
  • Dozen black pepper corns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic roughly sliced
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/3 glass red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 glass red wine
  • 500 ml stock (or water)
  • Teaspoon of sugar
  • Seasoning
  • Fresh chopped Parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Beef Stifado Method:

  1. In a hot pan add a decent drizzle of olive oil and sear the stewing beef to give some colour (do it in batches so not to overcrowd the pan). Once browned set aside.
  2. Then in the same pan add enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the base of the pan (part of this dish is about enjoying the flavour of the extra virgin olive oil so don't hold back!). On a medium/high heat add your onions and fry for 5-10 minutes until they start to caramelise then add the sugar.
  3. Quickly after adding the sugar add all the dry ingredients (except the parsley) and fry for a minute before adding the vinegar and wine. Keep on a high heat and reduce by about half.
  4. Now add the beef and pour any juices back into the pan, pour in enough stock to cover three-quarters of the ingredients (you might not use all 500ml of stock) cover and pop into your oven at 160c for 3 hours or into a slow cooker on a low setting for 6/8 hours (or as instructed for stewing steak by the manufacturer).
  5. Check the stifado hasn't dried out halfway through cooking and once more near the end.
  6. Once cooked, remove from the oven - this isn't meant to be a sloppy stew, so if the sauce is too thin simmer on hob to reduce or remove lid 20 mins before the end of cooking.
  7. Once ready add the chopped parsley, season and serve! Goes well with rice or if you've added lots of new potatoes just put it straight in a bowl!