This recipe is adapted from a cookbook How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis and appears in my cookbook Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat.
The foreword of Psilakis’ book compliments the author by saying, “you won’t find a recipe for the old familiar Greek salad” in its pages. I’m a HUGE fan of the old familiar Greek salad: tomatoes, feta, olive oil, oregano, lemon juice, olives. What’s not to like?! But since I’m not eating any feta these days – nor am I indulging in the wonders of pastitsio or spinach pies (I just told my sweet friend Stacey that I would give my right arm for a piece of pastitsio right now) – I was pretty excited to pick up a nouveau Greek recipe.
This one is so easy, it’s a crime. Seriously! Lock me up. The only part that’s a pain is browning the meat because it must be done in batches to get a lovely dark crust. Otherwise, the simmering does all the work. You know how much I love the magic of simmering.
And – bonus! – the recipe says “The tougher the meat, the better the sauce.” so this deliciousness is economical, too. I used a beef shoulder; you can also use brisket or shanks.
Prep 30 min | Cook about 90 minutes | Serves 6-10
2-3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
salt and black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3-5 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 sprig fresh sage (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 cinnamon sticks
extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (optional)
1. Sprinkle the beef generously with salt and pepper. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat, then add the meat in batches and sear on all sides. It’s important that you don’t crowd the pan. The meat needs air around it to achieve a crisp brown crust. With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the browned pieces to a bowl to catch their juice. Repeat with the remaining cubes.
2. In the same pot, sauté the chopped carrot, onion, celery, and garlic for about 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 1 minute.
3. Deglaze the pan. Which is just a cook’s way to say: Add the broth and vinegar, then stir with passion, scraping up all the wonderful brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to thicken.
4. Put the meat and its drippings back into the pot. Add 3 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, a healthy dose of pepper, the bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, sage, and cinnamon sticks.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer with the pot only partially covered for about 90 minutes. This is not a soupy stew, but if the stew starts to dry out, add more water, about a 1/2 cup at a time. Simmer until the meat is fall-apart tender and the liquid in the pan has been reduced to gravy-like status.
6. Remove the cinnamon sticks and herb stems from the stew pot. Ladle the stew into deep bowls — bonus points if you also add a light drizzle of olive oil.
This tastes even better on day 2 and 3 (and 4) — and it freezes/defrosts beautifully.
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