Here is a a traditional version of beef stifado which is meat cooked with whole, small, sweet onions or even better shallots. There is a trick that you’ll discover further down that may seem bizarre, but is important all the same!
The ingredients that we are going to need are as follows:
We peel and clean the shallots and we put them in a bowl with cold water for a half hour, because the water pulls out the onions pungency and makes them milder and sweeter.
We then clean and wash the meat of any fat and we cut it in large cubes. We take a big pot that has a well-fitting lid (or a traditional ceramic pot), and we put inside the meat and the shallots. We add the extra virgin olive oil, the glass of the wine (Cabernet Sauvignon), the water, salt and black pepper as needed, and a couple of bay leaves.
We cover the pot and put the dough all around the lid to seal the pot and to keep all the steam inside.
We turn on the stove to a medium flame, and we put the pot onto the stove. After the food is boiling for about a half an hour, we lower the fire and we leave the food to boil more till the sauce thickens. Sometimes we have to redo the dough around the pot, because if it dries it will crack and fall off, hence leaking steam out of the pot. This is a trick in traditional cooking that helps keep these meat dishes moist and supple.
After the sauce has properly thickened, we turn off the stove. Beef with sweet onions, or Beef Stifado as we’ve now learned, can be served hot or warm.
Because of the juicy, thick sauce, this is a great meat dish for hand fried potatoes, or a traditional homemade pasta dish - anything that can soak up some of the sauce.
Enjoy this with a glass of Barbera - Barbera’s astringency and strong tannic structure will be a great balance to the heavy meats, will help protein digestion, and be an interesting contrast to the sweetness of the onions.