Stifado (stee-FAH-though) is a Greek stew that is typically made with a fair amount of onions, wine, tomatoes, and cinnamon. The word stifado itself is really more about the stewing and other ingredients (not necessarily the beef) but beef is probably the most common form of stifado, at least in the U.S.
What this dish lacks in appearance, it makes up for in flavor. Big time. Beef is braised until it’s pull-apart tender. The wine and tomato paste create a great depth of flavor, while the cinnamon and cloves give this is a slightly sweet/spicy flavor. Cumin might seem like an odd ingredient in Greek food, but I like the slight smokiness it provides, and also use it in Greek meatballs called soutzoukakia. You can certainly omit it, if it’s not your thing.
Unlike a typical stew, this one doesn’t have potatoes (it doesn’t have much besides the meat, really!), so feel free to serve it with your carb of choice. I love having it with some crusty bread to sop off the sauce, and have also had it over rice. One of my favorite ways to eat the leftovers is with pasta (and loads of a salty cheese, like myzithra), which is what we did this time, too.
Just a note, I’ve been loving these little muslin bags when cooking with things like whole cloves. They are food safe, reusable, and make fishing out the cloves at the end much easier.
Beef (Kreas) Stifado
2 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1″ pieces (or packaged stew meat)
3/4 cup flour
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. cipolini onions, peeled (I use frozen, which are already peeled)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2/3 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth or water
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 whole cloves, or allspice berries
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp. cumin
Combine the flour with a big pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper in a resealable bag. Add the beef, in batches if necessary, and shake to coat.
In a Dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Once hot, shake the excess flour off the beef and place some in a single layer in the hot oil, without overcrowding. Brown on one side and then flip and brown on the other. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon. Add another Tbsp. of oil to the pan and continue with the remaining 1-2 batches of beef.
Once the beef has been browned and removed, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook another minute. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits. Cook until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Add the broth or water, cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaves, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then add the beef back in. Reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook until beef is very tender, 2-3 hours. Season to taste, if necessary.