Stifado is a traditional Greek dish served up by virtually every Greek Island taverna. Beef stifado is a nourishing meaty stew made with shallot onions and should be pronounced stifatho rather than stifado with emphasis on the 'fa'. The meat is usually beef but it can be lamb, rabbit or any sort of game. The flavour is in the thick sauce made slightly sweet by the added shallots.
The secret of a good Greek beef stifado is the slow cooking which should result in deliciously flaky, melt-in-your mouth beef and a richly infused thick sauce.
The only danger with slow cooking beef stifado is that the sauce may dry out. It is important to cover the casserole with a heavy lid or use a couple of layers of thick foil. I sometimes do both. If the sauce looks like drying out then simply add some hot water.
Here is the best recipe I have used for a traditional Greek beef stifado:
Ingredients to serve 4-6
1. Put the chopped onions in a large skillet with the olive oil and cook on a low heat until the onions soften.
2. Cube the beef and add to the skillet turning up the heat until the meat is sealed.
3. Turn down the heat and add finely chopped garlic, chopped tomatoes, crushed nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, rosemary and a good pinch of black pepper.
4. Stir on a moderate heat for 2 mins then add the wine and tomato paste.
5. Add a generous splash of cider vinegar and stir well.
6. Turn out into a casserole dish an add enough warm water to cover the meat.
7. Cover with foil and cook in oven at 180°C for 40 minutes.
8. Peel the shallots and shallow fry on a low heat until soft - don't let them burn.
9. Remove casserole from the oven and spoon in the shallots (not the oil).
10. Return to oven at 150°C for another hour or until the meat is soft and tender.
Crown with some spinach leaves and serve with creamy mashed potato (use creme fraiche if you are weight conscious), with plain white rice or just some warm crusty bread.
Traditional Greek beef stifado is a very filling meal and, you know what, is best eaten out of doors to give it that true Greek stifado flavour.
Words by Karen Mills
The Greek government has agreed to extend the opening hours of 33 major museums over the summer season in a bid to attract even more visitors in 2014 after a record year in 2013.
Tourism looks set to be Greece's biggest money spinner this year with up to 18 million tourists forecast to visit Greece and the Greek islands more than double the population of Greece.
Naxos has been placed among the top ten holiday islands in the world by a leading travel website. The Cycladic island of Naxos is ranked the sixth best island in the world.
Greek ferry firm Dodekanisos Seaways is to offer prizes for the best photos of any Greek Islands for the fifth year running so be sure to take a camera on your Greek island holiday.