Stifado has to be one of my favourite meals and I having made this many times this recipe has been refined to perfection. My ultimate beef stifado has a rich thick sauce to coat the rice without dripping away. In this recipe the meat is tender, whilst not completely falling apart it, still remains juicy.

My special trick . . . adding a tomato vine

Just like a cinnamon stick or a bay leaf this can infuse the stew with so much flavour but is taken out later (no one enjoys chewing sticks :D). The vine of the tomato is so fragrant and strong, adding this whilst cooking makes the stew extra tomatoey!

This recipe is perfect for meal prepping in advance and can be kept up to 3 days in a sealed container in the the fridge, or can be frozen for another day. I often make a big batch of this so I can enjoy as a lunch or during the week when I don’t have too much time.

The secret to the perfect beef stew is the cut / leanness, temperature and time. People often say “you can never cook a stew long enough“ however its a common misconception. In technical terms, after a certain amount of time heat and pressure the collagen and fat in the meat will break down and the meat looses moisture and becomes a dry pulp. Ideally you want to keep the temperature between 80-90oC or just below boiling point and cook for a minimum of 1 hour but ideally 2 hours for the optimum breakdown (primary-secondary breakdown in scientific terms). This is why fatty meats are chewey and need to be stewed for a long time but retain their moisture.

Nutritionally the dish is high protein, low fat, has lots of Vitamin C and is packed full of iron*; over 50% of your daily recommended allowance! 

*Anaemia is common amongst Mediterranean people but the Greeks know how important this is to your health particularly if you have a condition like this so they make sure to have plenty of this in their diet.


You’ll see I cook this in a cast iron pot (dutch oven). These can get expensive if you’re looking at the main brand pots like Le Creuset, mine certainly isn’t one of these. I would recommend a pot like the one below which is very similar to mine and much more budget friendly:

Alternatively you can use a pan with a heavy lid to keep the steam in or a slow cooker which is perfectly suitable.

610 minutes1.5 hour1h 40 minutes



  • 1 Kg Good Quality Beef Shoulder or Lean Diced Beef
  • 600 g  Shallots / baby onions
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes / 800g diced tomatoes (or a mixture of both)
  • 100 ml Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Garlic Purée 
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 tsp Table salt
  • 12 Whole Peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Dried Tyme
  • 250 ml Hot Water
  • 1 tomato vine from the fresh tomatoes (if using)

Rice Accompaniment

  • 450 g Long Grain Rice (preferably easy cook)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1200 ml water



Peel the shallots and set aside for later.

Dice the beef into 3cm cubes.

For the stew:

In a large pan with heavy lid heat the half the olive oil on a high heat and sauté the shallots until softened on the outside. Make sure not to brown them as they will cook later in the stew. Set the shallots aside in a bowl with any accumulated juices.

In the same pan add the other half of the oil and garlic purée and seal the cubed beef. It may be necessary to do this in batches if the pan becomes overcrowded.

With the pan on a medium heat add the onions back to the pan with the red wine vinegar, extra hot water and canned or fresh tomatoes. Stir through and bring it a rolling boil.

Mix in the dried herbs, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, tomato vine and seasoning into the pan.

With the pan on a low heat simmer for 1.5-2 hours to stew the beef and loosen the flavours. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary. Check the meat about 3/4 of the way through cooking; you should be able to pull it apart but not falling apart. After this it will only need another 15-20 minutes to reach perfection.

For the rice:

Whilst the pan is simmering rinse the rice in a fine sieve under cold water until the water runs clear.

In medium pan add 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. Salt the water and then add the washed rice.

Bring the pan to a boil and then simmer for 12 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed, stirring halfway through.

After 12 minutes you should start to see ’steam holes’ form in the rice. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside with the lid on. The rice will absorb the rest of the steamy hot water and puff up whilst the beef is stewing.

Back to the beef:

Once the beef has stewed remove from the heat and carefully remove the lid. Give it a good stir with a wooden / silicone spoon scraping down the pan edges recombining all those flavours.

The stifado should now have a thick rich tomato sauce and the beef and onions should be tender. Carefully remove the bay leaves, cinnamon stick and tomato vine.

Break up the rice by divining with a spoon and serve into a bowl or deep dish, making a well in the centre off the rice.

Spoon over the Stifado making sure to get all the sauce at the bottom of the pan and enjoy. This is perfect as is or even better with a slice of crusty baguette.

Also see our quick how to video below . . 

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