Stifado (Stew from Cyprus)

Cypriot Entree



2 pounds stewing beef
2 pounds frozen pearl onions*
½ tablespoon fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
3 cups beef stock
3″ cinnamon stick
2 cloves
¾ teaspoon pepper
1½ cups red wine
2½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
water, if liquid cooks away too soon

* = Fresh pearl onions will taste a bit better than frozen ones. But my gosh, the fresh ones have to be peeled. You can speed up the peeling process by boiling, plunging them into cold water, and squeezing the pearl onion out of its skin. This peeling took me 40 minutes the one and only time I tried. I’d rather join the French Foreign Legion than do it again. Buy the frozen ones.

Serves 4. Takes 2 hours 30 minutes.


Cut stewing beef into 1″ cubes. Peel pearl onions, if necessary. Dice rosemary. Add olive oil and beef cubes to large pan. Sauté at medium-high heat until all sides brown. Stir occasionally. Add pearl onions. Sauté at medium heat until onions soften. Stir frequently.

Add remaining ingredients. Stir until completely blended. Put lid on pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour 40 minutes or meat becomes quite tender and the liquid reduces to a thick sauce. Stir occasionally. (Add water as necessary, if liquid evaporates completely before beef cubes become tender.) Remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick.


1) America’s Prohibition banned the selling and consumption of alcohol. If you were a barkeep and sold a customer a large whiskey, you were liable to arrest by a lurking cop. And your bar would be shut down. So customers took to calling a large whiskey, a stiff one. Such subterfuge, fooled the police only for a bit. They were naturally suspicious that a liquid that looking like whiskey, and being sold in a speakeasy was, in fact, whiskey. So, whiskey dens took to injecting avocados with whiskey. They called the new concoction “stifado,” a combination of “stiff one” and “avocado”. A visiting chef from Cyprus so loved the stifado, that he named his signature stew, “Stifado.” Now you know.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on

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