A robust, winey stew from Rebecca Seal's mouthwatering new book, The Islands of Greece which immediately makes you want to jump on a plane and fly off there. Top tip about cooking rabbit too.
Rebecca writes: "Stifado is a wonderful Greek stew that is always made with lots of tiny onions and sometimes with tomato; this version is rich and aromatic with spices but if you prefer a sharper flavour, add half a can of chopped tomatoes after the wine.
Rabbit can take anything from one to three hours to cook, depending on the age of the rabbit and whether it is wild or not, so, sometimes it might be best to cook it in advance and reheat it to serve. Stifado can also be made with chicken, game birds, even goat or venison, if you prefer. Serve with lemon, garlic and herb-roasted potatoes (also in the book) and a green salad with a sharp dressing, to cut through the richness."
olive oil to cook
1 whole rabbit, skinned and jointed, without offal
15 small onions
6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tomato purée (paste)
250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) red wine
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
3 cm (1¼ in) cinnamon stick
leaves from ½ sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160ºC (325°F/Gas 3).
In a large ovenproof pan with a lid, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a high heat. Place half the rabbit pieces into the pan and brown thoroughly, then remove from the pan and set aside. Do the same with the other half. Add the onions and garlic and fry for 3 minutes, stirring, just long enough for them to get a little colour.
Add the tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes, stirring again. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan: let the wine bubble and stir, scraping up any burnt on bits from the base and sides. Add the vinegar, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and rosemary, stir, then return the meat to the pan.
Add 500 ml (17 fl oz/2¼ cups) of hot water and the pepper, plus a generous grinding of salt. Bring to the boil, cover and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour, then check to see if the meat is becoming tender; if not, return to the oven for 30 minutes. Continue to check every 30 minutes until the meat is falling off the bones; this may take as long as 3 hours.
When the meat is tender, remove the pan from the oven. Take the meat out of the pan and set aside. Remove and discard the cinnamon. Place the pan over a medium heat and reduce the liquid left in the pan until thickened and saucy (this may not need to be done if the meat has been in the oven for a very long time).
What to drink: As Rebecca does the drinks slot for Channel 4's Sunday Brunch I asked her for her recommendations with this dish. She suggested the 2008 Little Ark 'dry red', and the Emery Estate Zacosta Amorgiano, also 2008 from Rhodes but says she doesn't think they're available in the UK. Or any robust Greek red - try the 'Red on Black' Agiorgitiko from Marks & Spencer. (Southern Italian reds, I think, would work well too FB)
Recipe extracted from The Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal (Hardie Grant, £25.00) Photography © Steven Joyce