stifado: the solemn conversation of stomach

That is why I love Greek kitchen savagely; because, She grew up with neighbors of great cuisine cultures (It must have been more fun in spite of historiography). After all, the only painless side of the Baroque times wars' was the coexistence of food habits and the birth of gastronomic miracles from their combination. One of those is stifado and it really makes me cry to talk about it.

The ingredients in leading role are the pearly shallots, melancholic bay leaf, peacemaker cinnamon, and my biggest obsession, the dominant whole allspice. And if you're mumbling, "Alright, nice story, but what stifado is? We're dying to hear!" then, I'm bringing you back to life. Just a few seconds ago, I mentioned the neighbors of Greek cuisine and at this point I welcome Italy to the stage. Dear taste nuns and monks, stifado is a way of cooking and the term comes from the Latin verb extufare*, which etymologically derives from the Greek ancient term tyfos and it means steam. In other words, stifado is the food that has been cooked in steam, as the water to be used is very, very little. At least, this is how it must have started...

Although is not a regularly served dish, it is enough to say, "I will make for stifado on Sunday" to see all your beloveds reunited around your table. It will be impossible to turn down such a call, even for the coolest friend or family. It's that simple! Because, those chic onions are so nostalgically sweet and so provoking at the same time, that only a cold blood could stay out of this (It can be cooked and used also as a harmless weapon to detect the cold bloods of your close milieu).

For such a devilish project, the first thing that you have to do is to decide about the flesh type you want to use. Well, I think that for a sophisticated stifado, rabbit or octopus are the best choices; some of you, though, might not be so adventurous and fearless to prefer them. So, I got beef for you! Eventually, you will fall apart and try those guys too. It is time that you need.

Entrecote is fine if you don't fancy boned parts. Cut the meat into generous pieces, make small cuts and stuff with garlic, season with salt and spoil with black pepper. Place the beef and the rest of the spices at the same pan and saute in olive oil until it gets brown. Now smell, smell greedily. If the burning meat, boosted by the aroma of the whole allspice, do not succeed to penetrate your emotions, I shall never eat stifado again! Suffocate the meat in red wine; dry or sweet, both will behave! And just before wine fades away, add 5-6 diced organic tomatoes, one tablespoon tomato paste for color if you want to overreact, definitely some more heavy drops of olive oil, very few boiled water and cook at a very low heat.

While the beef is being cooked, you can hang out with the shallots (If you want a strong flavor make sure that they are hard before you buy them). Heat a pan, add olive oil, season the onions with salt while you saute and find yourself in a incredible scent festival for five minutes. Remove from heat. Let them wait until beef becomes soft enough and place shallots in the pot that the meat has been cooked. Cook no longer than ten minutes, as we don't want to see the pretty onions losing their shape.

My weird aunties and grannies used to serve this dish plainly, exactly as it comes out from the pot. Indeed, stifado was already a big deal of its own. This dish always brought solemnity into our kitchen and its presence on the table used to cause a reverent silence for a few minutes. But me, I enjoy spoiling my beloveds, in the same way all these sweet women use to spoil me and my brothers. So, I arranged an escort more for stifado, rice. All in all, if it weren't for the people I love, my food would have no place to go...

* The etymological information about the origin of the term stifado, came from the forthcoming publication of the awarded food writer Marianna Kavroulaki's "Η περιπέτεια της Ελληνικής διατροφής" ( The quest for Greek nutrition) by the Εστία (Estia) publishing house.


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