Stifatho – Greek beef stew with tiny onions

My recipe for Stifatho comes from The Home Book of Greek Cookery by Joyce M. Stubbs. I bought it in a jumble sale in 1987, and it has been in use ever since. There are many other versions online. The trickiest bit was to find small onions or shallots. Shallots grow well here. The ones in the shops are a bit too large, you are hoping to use shallots or onions about the size of a walnut.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg stewing steak, cut into portions about the size of half a post-card and 1cm thick
  • 1kg shallots or pickling onions
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 200ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In a skillet, brown the meat in hot olive oil and put into a casserole dish.
  • Cover the meat with hot water, and stew gently in a moderate oven (140C) for an hour.
  • Using a soup wand, puree the tin of tomatoes, and add them to the meat, along with the peeled whole onions, garlic cloves, bay leaves, spices, red wine, wine vinegar, and the rest of the olive oil.
  • Bring the stew to a simmer, stir, cover with a lid and return to the oven for at least another two hours.
  • Once the meat is tender, and the sauce is rich and thick, take it out of the oven and set to one side. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper at this stage.
  • Cook some small potatoes, and serve with the stew. The stew could be served with mashed potatoes, or in small bowls with a side-serving of boiled potatoes.

Beef stew with chocolate and prunes

This is madly delicious. The original recipe is in Honey from a Weed by Patience Grey.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg beef, cut to about the size and shape of a large thumb
  • 1 onion, halved and finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 glass of spanish brandy
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 bunch of herbs, include thyme, bay, parsley
  • 200ml white wine or noilly prat
  • 300ml water
  • 12 fine prunes
  • olive oil
  • 2 potatoes per person, peeled and cubed.

METHOD:

  • Soak the prunes for an hour.
  • Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a pan, and brown the meat. When it is browned, put it in a casserole dish.
  • Fry the sliced onion in the olive oil, with the unpeeled garlic cloves, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown.
  • Add the tomatoes to the frying pan, with the brandy, and wine. Simmer for around 20 minutes
  • Add the paprika, bitter chocolate, and the cinnamon, and the herbs.
  • Stir in the water, and cook for a few minutes, before pouring this over the meat in the casserole dish.
  • Simmer in a moderate oven, around 140C, for 2 hours.
  • Cook the prunes for 1/2 an hour in a very little water, and drain them.
  • Fry the cubes of potato in hot oil until they are golden.
  • Serve the stew on a platter, with the fried potatoes at one end, and the stewed prunes the other.

Tas Kebab

I found this in an old book of Greek recipes, but when I researched it online, I found many variants. It is one of many Greek recipes that originated further east, and there are dishes by the same name in Iran and Turkey.

All of the recipes have in common a stew that is served with rice. I made it the way suggested in my book, with a bit more detail about how to add the rice. The quantities are quite large: once the rice is added this will serve around 10 people.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg stewing steak, cut into small pieces, around the size of the last joint of your thumb
  • 50g butter
  • 2 finely sliced onions
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 wine-glass of vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)
  • 500ml hot water
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper.
  • 500g basmati rice
  • Sliced carrots, optional extra.

METHOD:

  • In a heavy pan, melt the butter and add the sliced onions. Cook the onions slowly so they soften and begin to colour.
  • Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, sugar and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the pieces of meat and add to the pan with the water, bring to a simmer and cook very slowly for a couple of hours.
  • Add the vermouth and set to one side.
  • Wash the rice in cold water then boil it in salted water for six minutes. Drain the rice and rinse through with cold water. If you are adding carrots, they can be chopped and cooked with the rice.
  • Put half the rice in the bottom of a casserole dish. Then add the stew, then the rest of the rice (you can do multiple layers like this, ending with a rice layer).
  • Put the casserole pan into the oven at around 130C and bake for an hour.

If you don’t want to cook it straight away, you can freeze the stew in portions. I allowed 100g of stew to 50g of rice to good effect.

Beef Burgers

I’d never made beef burgers before – so now that we have this huge supply of mince from a local herd that was down-sizing, I thought I’d give it a go. Who knew – these are like making meatballs that I’ve made many times in many versions. I suppose you could make meatballs with the mixture too.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • a handful of panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix them together well, using your hands to make a thick paste. If you don’t like the onion bits in your burgers, you can mix the mince and onion, and put it through a mincer, before adding the other ingredients.
  • Put the mixture in the fridge to chill until you need it.
  • Divide the mixture into rounds, about 15mm to 20mm thick. Any burgers that you don’t need can be frozen.
  • Fry the burgers in a little oil, around 5 to 6 minutes on each side.

Serve in a roll, with salad, cornichons, tomato ketchup, etcetera. Try lightly toasting the roll in the frying pan before putting the burger in.

Aberdeen Roll

I made this for this weekend, delicious. As well as the delicious mince from Dr L, I used some left-over bacon as well as some lardons that we had in the freezer.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 225g bacon
  • 225g beef mince
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 75 g rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • up to 150mg stock.

METHOD:

  • Chop the bacon, onion and garlic and mix with the mince
  • Put the mixture through a mincer.
  • Mix in the oats, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Add the egg, and up to 150ml of beef stock, to make a firm paste.
  • Leave to settle in the fridge until needed.
  • Heat the oven to 180C. Grease a loaf tin, and press the mixture in. Cover with foil.
  • Put the tin into a roasting dish, and fill with hot water.
  • Put the dish into the oven and bake for 2 hours.
  • Turn the roll out into a serving dish. Be careful: there will be some delicious liquor, so do not turn out onto a chopping board or there will be a mess.
  • Slice and serve with mashed potatoes, fried onions and vegetables.

This is also delicious cold.

Meatballs recipe 1 (Italian style)

I’ve a few meatball recipes to try, this one was delicious. It is adapted from another recipe that I have, but I needed to cut the quantities down, and make it simpler.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g minced beef
  • 50g breadcrumbs (I used panko) OR stick one slice of stale bread in a blender.
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tomato sauce recipe
  • Fresh basil, if available, or use good quality green pesto sauce
  • 1 pack of mozzarella cheese
  • 50g grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • In a large bowl, mix the mince, breadcrumbs, oregano, cumin, chilli, rosemary and egg yolk. Season with 1 level teaspoon of salt and a good grating of black pepper. Get your hands right into the mixture and really knead it together so that it is smooth and consistent.
  • Shape into meatballs. I divided the mixture into 16 meatballs, but you could make these into 24 smaller meatballs. Put on a tray, and chill in the fridge until needed.
  • Put the fresh tomato sauce into the bottom of a large shallow casserole dish or other oven-safe dish.
  • Preheat a large flat-bottomed pan, and put in a good quantity of olive oil. Fry the meatballs quickly until they are browned all over. When they are done, put them into the tomato sauce.
  • Cover the meatballs in sauce, top the dish with the cheeses and pesto or basil.
  • Bake in a hot oven 200C for 20 minutes and serve with pasta. We got some posh tagliatelle from the co-op which worked well.

Bobotie – a 19th century recipe for baked mince.

We had this tonight – part of the mince recipe challenge. Very good indeed. I had two helpings. The recipe looks a little odd, but trust me, it is fine.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 thick slices of white bread
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2oz raisins or sultanas
  • 25g flaked almonds, or chopped almonds
  • 2 tsp wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp madras curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
  • black pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 beaten eggs

METHOD:

  • Take the crusts off the bread, and soak it in the milk. Squeeze the milk out of the bread, and keep it for later.
  • Heat the oven to 180C
  • Peel and chop the onion finely
  • In a large pan, fry the onion in the oil and butter until it is softening but not brown. Remove from the heat.
  • Add the bread, sultanas, beef, almonds, vinegar, sugar, curry powder, salt, herbs, pepper, lemon juice and 1 tbsp of the beaten egg. Mix this all together well, and spread it into a greased oven-proof dish.
  • Mix the remaining egg with the reserved milk, and pour it over the top of the mixture.
  • Bake at 180C for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Cut into portions to serve. This is apparently good cold the next day. It is delicious warm. We had this with toast and some braised cabbage.

Venison or beef with port, guinness and pickled walnuts

This is another recipe from Delia Smith’s Christmas recipe book. It is also available widely online. It is delicious. I serve it with mashed potato, or with potato mashed with celeriac.

The quantities below serve 10-12. It is easy to halve the quantities.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2.75 kg venison or beef, cut into flattish cubes around 3cm across
  • 1.2 litres of guinness
  • 275 ml ruby port
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 400g jars of pickled walnuts, drained and quartered
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • The night before, put the meat in a large plastic container with bayleaf, thyme, port and guinness. Seal the top and give the mixture a good shake. A good technique is to put the ingredients in a bowl with a small plate on the top to ensure all the meat is immersed.
  • The next day, pre-heat the oven to 140C.
  • Melt half the butter/oil in a casserole dish and heat gently. Drain the meat, reserving the marinade for later. Pat the meat dry before frying off in small batches, until it is browned. Take the meat from the pan as each batch cooks, and set it aside.
  • Add the rest of the butter and oil to the pan, and melt together over a moderate heat until it starts to bubble. Add the onions and brown this for around 8 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to fry for another couple of minutes
  • Return the meat to the casserole dish, stir in the flour, and then pour in the marinade, add the walnuts and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring the casserole to a simmer, then put the lid on, and transfer the whole thing to the warm oven for 3 hours.

Chille con Carne

I didn’t make this tonight, but I have tested this recipe often enough to know that it is the best. It is from The Organic Meat Cookbook by Frances Bissell. I’ve had this book for a while, and just about everything that I have made is delicious. This recipe can be made with beef mince, or with finely chopped venison. I don’t like minced venison, just doesn’t work well.

This can be served with rice or bread, with yoghurt as a side dish.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 680g minced beef or diced venison
  • 2 cans of red kidney beans, or 450g dried beans, scalded and then soaked overnight
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 280ml stock
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped coriander or parsley

METHOD:

  • In a large casserole dish, fry the onion in the olive oil until it is golden.
  • Add the mince or finely diced meat, and cook until browned. Stir in the spices so the meat is well-coated.
  • Add the tomatoes, stock and beans, and enough water to ensure all the ingredients are covered.
  • Simmer very slowly in the oven for 3-4 hours.
  • Check the seasoning just before serving, and garnish with chopped herbs.

Minced Meat Curry

One of my stand-by recipe books is a rather unglamorous and battered book, called the Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cookbook. In my quest to cook about 40 different recipes with beef mince, I tried this, and it was delicious. I served it with plain basmati rice, and used up some coconut milk that I had, rather than following the recipe exactly.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger root
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmerig
  • 450g minced beef
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup of frozen peas

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil, and gently fry the onion.
  • As it becomes well cooked, almost beginning to brown, add the garlic, ginger, chillies and the spices, and stir together until well mixed.
  • Add the meat and continue to cook over a low heat.
  • Once is browned, add the tomato puree, and the coconut milk, mix together and bring back to a simmer.
  • Cover and simmer slowly for around 1 hour.
  • Add the peas and cook for another 10 minutes before serving.