Now I couldn't decide whether to do a post specifically for Stifado or for the company that sold us the herb and spice mix that we used for the dish. I suppose it is a bit of both really. Now, we have made Stifado in the past and had no trouble with the ingredients as it is not a complicated dish but a few weeks ago we were at Marple Farmer's Market and were rather taken by a particular stall; Greek Oil Direct.
If you have read our blog from the start you will know that following our trip to Crete in the summer we fell in love with Greek food and attempted a few of our favourites like Briam and Souvlaki. We cooked a Beef Stifado back then but for some reason we didn't post about it on the blog. Since the holiday we have always had Greek olive oil in the house, the 1st tub we bought ourselves, then a friend brought us some back (again from Crete) and when we approached this stall at the market our intention was to find a good supplier of Greek oil to buy in the future when ours ran out so picked up a card from a friendly chap who I think is called Craig.
So while enquiring about oil, Craig (we think) told us how he used to live and work in Greece and started his business as a way of retaining his links to the country and his love of Greek food. This kind of sentiment impressed us greatly so felt compelled to buy some of his goodies. On that occasion we picked up a bunch of dried oregano, a bag of dried Greek basil, a mix for fish and a Stifado mix. Since then we have used the basil and oregano several times but the mixes had just in the cupboard. Maybe this is because we enjoy cooking (surprised?) and don't usually use ready prepared mixes as you normally pay more and takes some of the fun out of preparing food.
We have used both mixes now, but I will save the fish for another post and just show you what we did with the Stifado mix. The obvious spices (among others) were bay leaves, black peppercorns, dried garlic, oregano, a cinnamon stick and maybe allspice berries! What was great though was they were all measured out and we took the opinion they should be used in one dish as the was only one cinnamon stick.
The next thing to decide was what meat to use. I know Stifado is often made with Beef but I believe traditionally rabbit was used. Just to be different we bought some lamb shoulder and it worked great. It is quite fatty and needs plenty of cooking but that just helps blend the flavours anyway so this was no problem.
What we used (would serve 4):
Shoulder of lamb (750g with bone, 500g off the bone)
300g small shallots, peeled (any large ones cut in 2)
6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 glass of red wine
2 chopped ripe tomatoes (skinned)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste/puree
125 ml olive oil
A little water
Salt and pepper
Stifado Mix from http://www.greekoildirect.com/ (or use spices as described above)
We had it with some lemon infused potatoes and homemade tzatziki
This meal was fantastic. The lemon potatoes really complemented the Stifado too which was great. This is the 1st time we have had Stifado made with lamb and we genuinely preferred it to beef. Lamb isn't a meat we use too often but it was great in this dish.
I know it is usually better to prepare all the spices yourself but it is well worth having a look at the spice mixes Greek Oil Direct have to offer. Or visit their stall at Marple Farmers Market - Marple Garden Centre (formerly Wyevale) on the 4th Sunday of each month and tell em we sent ya!