About this recipe:An authentic Greek beef stifado that is slow cooked in a rich red wine and tomato sauce for 4, 5, or even 6+ hours until meltingly tender. (I once cooked this stifado on the hob over two days for more than 13 hours in total and the beef had a "fudge" like consistency). In Greece this is served in a bowl by itself with just crusty bread, but I like to serve some kind of potato with it, roast or mash work really good with it, and feel free to serve your favourite veg on the side too.
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Method Prep:25min › Cook:6hr › Ready in:6hr25min
Empty the wine into a large stock pot or saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer to burn off the alcohol, simmering for 2 to 3 minutes without the lid should do it.
Next, add the cinnamon stick, cloves, whole garlic cloves, sugar, oregano, red wine vinegar, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir and add the passata and beef stock and stir again to combine everything then place the lid on and, again, bring to a gentle simmer.
Once it is gently simmering, add the onions and beef steaks left whole. Give it a quick stir and replace the lid, and once again, bring it all to a gentle simmer.
The key to getting the right consistency with the sauce is knowing when to remove the lid to let the sauce reduce down to a thick-ish sauce, and reducing the sauce will take at least an hour while simmering without the lid, so make sure the beef is soft and tender before removing the lid for the last hour. The finished sauce should be velvety smooth with a cream like consistency with meat and onions that are "squidgy" soft. The total cooking time can be anything from 4 to 5 hours up to 8 to 9 hours depending on the thickness of the braising steaks and your hob (gas/electric) etc. Remove from the heat and serve with potatoes or bread.
Fantastic served with homemade garlicky ciabatta bread.
Browning the meat
There is absolutely no need to brown the beef first but if you feel you must, then go for it.
Shallots and pickling onions can be difficult to peel, but if you submerge them in boiling water for a couple of minutes the skins will be easier to peel. Just leave the root on so the onions stay whole while cooking.
All wines differ in acidity so you may (or may not) need to add just a pinch of sugar at the end. The finished sauce should be rich with a background hint of red wine vinegar but not too sweet.