Stifado, Two Versions to Enjoy this Time of Year

October 26, 2020

In traditional Greek cuisine, stifado is most often prepared with rabbit, though almost any type of meat can be used to make this comfort food, including chicken and beef. The stifado can be served with rice, pasta, hilopites (egg noodles), or fried potatoes and a salad as side dishes.

Rabbit Stifado

1 large rabbit, cut in pieces

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 bay leaves

4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

6 ounces Greek tomato paste

1 cup chopped plum tomatoes, fresh or canned


1 cup dry Greek red wine

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 2-inch cinnamon stick

2 pounds white pearl onions, peeled

Rinse the rabbit in cool water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place in a nonreactive bowl with the red wine vinegar and the bay leaves. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight to marinate. Remove the marinaded rabbit pieces from the vinegar and pat dry, reserving the bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large deep pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Cook the rabbit pieces in the hot olive oil until browned on all sides. If needed, brown the rabbit in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Remove the browned meat to a plate and set aside. Add the diced onion to the pot and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato paste and the chopped tomatoes and sauté for about 2 minutes. Return the browned meat to the pot and add enough water to cover. Add the reserved bay leaves, the wine, rosemary, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Bring the pot up to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for about 30 minutes. In a separate pan, cook the pearl onions for about 10 minutes and then add to the pot and continue simmering until the onions are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, rosemary sprig, and cinnamon stick, if using, before serving.

Beef Stifado

2 1/2 pounds beef for stew, cut into cubes

24 baby onions

4 fresh ripe tomatoes, or 1 (28 oz.) can chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

Greek sea salt

Freshly ground pepper


For the marinade:

1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry Greek red wine

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 fresh or dried bay leaves

4 garlic cloves, sliced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 (2-inch) stick cinnamon

10 peppercorns

Place the beef in a large non-reactive bowl. Add the marinade ingredients, then cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight. Peel the baby onions. If using fresh, chop the tomatoes. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan and sauté the onions for 5 minutes or until softened. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Sauté the beef, reserving the marinade, for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Return the onions to the saucepan, add the marinade, tomatoes and enough water to just cover the stew. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened. Serve with pasta and grated cheese, such as kefalotiri.


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