Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with the big, new kitchen. They often bring some of their market's choicest ingredients home with them and cook up a feast.
"People, people, people: When I tell you this is one of the most delicious stews I've ever made, you must believe me," implores Barb, who found the recipe for her soulful stifado, a Greek stew, made with onions and, traditionally, lamb, in Cold-Weather Cooking, originally published in 1990 by Sarah Leah Chase. "I was looking through the cookbook, and there were so many different stew choices, but when I saw this recipe, which calls for cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, brown sugar and balsamic, I knew that's the one I wanted to make," says Barb, noting that while the original recipe uses lamb, she cooks her stifado with beef. "It's deep, rich and wonderful, and it's our holiday gift to you and your houseful of guests."
Stifado Makes 6 to 8 servings
1/4 cup olive oil 3 pounds lean lamb or beef, trimmed and cut into 1.5-inch cubes 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1 1/2 cup dry red wine 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 1 6-ounce can tomato paste 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground cloves 2 bay leaves 2 cinnamon sticks 1/2 cup dried currants 2 strips (3x1-inch each) orange zest 2 pounds small white onions 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled 3/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a large stew pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the lamb, or beef, in batches until browned all over. Remove meat from pot with slotted spoon and set aside. 2. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, vinegar, brown sugar and tomato paste; stir together until smooth. 3. Add cumin, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks, and stir. 4. Return the meat to the pot; add currants, orange zest and salt and pepper to taste. 5. Bring the stew to simmer, cover, and let cook over medium-low heat 1 hour. 6. Meanwhile, blanch the white onions in boiling water and cover for 5 minutes. Drain, let cool slightly, and peel. After the stew has cooked 1 hour, add the onions and simmer, covered, 1 hour more. (The stew may be prepared up to this point and refrigerated 1-2 days before serving). 7. Adjust seasonings, and distribute the stew evenly in warms bowls, topping each portion with feta crumbles and toasted pine nuts.