There is always the go-to stew for every family. Even if Sunday lunch gatherings are far and few nowadays, I’m still making this one: beef stifátho, beef stew with shallots.
There is beef with orzo, the very well-known youvetsi and then there is stifátho. Traditionally, this shallot stew is made with hare. It’s a winter favourite, when wild hare is available. During spring and summer months that marks hares breeding season, the hunt is prohibited in order to protect and maintain populations to healthy standards. If hunting turns you off, keep in mind that it’s the most sustainable way of eating meat. Hunting affects very few animals as opposed to farming and it is a sustainable way of managing their populations.
I am not a vegetarian myself, but I strongly support a healthy and balanced diet, the Mediterranean style: a diet with many, many vegetables and fruit and very little meat and fish. If I am going for the latter, I choose sustainable farming from small, local butchers. It’s a win win as supporting local keeps the local economy running on ethical trading (thus the higher price tag) and you get the best quality.
The chapter of ethical and responsible eating is however a large one that I can barely touch the surface here. There are a few things we can certainly do, such as switching our habits to a Zero Waste. Think local and eat seasonal, cooking that’s truly at the very heart of Greek cuisine. But let’s focus on our dish.
Beef stifatho is best to cook with chuck, a part from the shoulder otherwise known as a ‘tough’ part which has more connective tissue and it works best at longer cooking. It’s also a cheaper cut, compared to tender, premium cuts such as steaks which will disappoint in a stew.
As for shallots, I’m using the round, pearly ones which are sweet and hold perfectly on this dish. Banana shallots can be tricky in this stew so best avoid them. The quick way to clean and peel is to quickly blanch them, drain and peel at room temperature. It is a piece of cake once prepped like this.
Beef stew with shallots, Beef stifatho
- 500 gr beef diced
- 800 gr shallots
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 400 gr grated tomatoes
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 bay lea
- 2-3 all spice berries
- A pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- Heat up some olive oil in a deep, large pot and sauté 1 onion. Add the diced beef and brown, deglaze with wine. Once evaporated, add a glass of water, just enough to cover the meat; put the lid on and turn the heat to low for approximately 35-40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the shallots. You will need to peel them, the quickest way is to blanch them, let drain and peel once they at room temperature. The shallots should be kept whole.
- Once the shallots are peeled, use a different pot, add a bit of olive oil, allow to heat up and add 1 crushed garlic clove and then add all the shallots to give them a quick browning. Once well sizzled, transfer the shallots to the bigger pot which holds the beef.
- Now it’s time to add all the seasoning, bay leaf, pepper and salt, all the spice berries, the chopped tomatoes with half a teaspoon of salt. Once it comes to a boil, lower to a gentle simmer. Your stew will be ready once the sauce sets 7-8 minutes.
- You can serve with pasta or baby new potatoes.
Hope you keep up the sustainable habits and delicious food.
From London with love,