Saturday, September 28, 2013

Crock-Pot Greek-Style Beef Stew

As you know, stifado is a Greek stew. It can be made with rabbit, hare or beef and it's slowly simmered with a quantity of onions until the cubed meat is meltingly tender. The stew is both sweet and sour and is fairly unique in the spices that are used to flavor it. The dish I'm featuring tonight is Greek-like. I would never claim it to be authentic and I don't want to become embroiled in arguments waged by those who believe theirs to be the definitive stew. I've combined stew meat, pearl onions and tomatoes in a slow cooker and seasoned them with cinnamon, allspice and cloves to produce a stew that becomes Greek-like when topped with feta cheese and walnuts. This is a no fuss dinner and once the meat and onions have been browned, it is a meal that takes care of itself. The recipe I used was was developed by Lynn Alley, and the only change I've made to it, is to use a bit more garlic and add a small amount of vinegar at the end of cooking. Those of you who love to use the crock-pot or slow cooker will love this recipe. Those of you who do not can achieve the same results by braising the stew in a 250 degree F. oven for 6 to 7 hours, or until the meat is fork tender. Either way, you'll have a wonderful family meal that is delicious when served with rice and a salad. The recipe calls for a bouquet garni. Remember you can use a coffee filter rather than cheesecloth to hold the herbs and spices in place. Here's the recipe.

Crock-Pot Greek-Style Beef Stew...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Lynn Alley


3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

2 pounds boneless beef stew meat or top round steak, trimmed or fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks across the grain

24 white pearl onions, trimmed

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup hearty red wine

3 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks (4-inch)

4 cloves garlic, smashed flat

8 whole cloves

4 allspice berries

Kitchen twine (for bouquet garni)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled, for serving

3/4 cup coarsely broken walnut pieces, for serving

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, for serving


1) In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1-1/2 tablespoons oil until very hot. While it is heating, combine flour, salt and pepper in a large zipper-top plastic bag. Add beef chunks to bag and shake until well coated. Add half of beef to hot oil and brown on all sides, for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium or large slow cooker. Repeat browning with remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons oil and remaining beef. Transfer to slow cooker.

2) Add onions to skillet and brown slightly, stirring, over medium-high heat. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate, bringing them to room temperature after 2 1/2 hours.

3) Using same pan, add tomatoes, their juice and wine and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits stuck to pan. Pour into cooker.

4) Make a bouquet garni of bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, garlic, cloves and allspice berries by wrapping them in cheesecloth or a coffee filter and tying bundle with kitchen twine; submerge into the stew. Cover and cook on low for 3-3 1/2 hours.

5) At three hour mark, add room-temperature onions, cover and continue to cook on low until the meat is tender, another 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Remove bouquet garni, stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently so as not to break up onions. Serve topped with feta cheese, walnuts and parsley. Yield: 6 servings.

You might also enjoy these recipes:

Mushroom Bourguignon - Elle's New England Kitchen

Coffee and Chili Braised Pot Roast - Cara's Cravings

Crock-Pot Vegetarian Chili - Spice Opolis

Sunday Suppers: Cassoulet - Stacey Snacks

Beer Stew - Food and Whine

Crock-Pot Southwestern Sausage and Hominy Stew - One Perfect Bite

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