Makes 4 to 6 servings
Stifado, which has its origins on Corfu, is an intensely flavored stew, usually of rabbit or hare, cooked slowly in both sweet and dry red wine with tomatoes and pearl onions. Seasoned with bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and allspice, the fragrant stew can be served over homemade egg noodles, fettuccine or tagliatelle.
This recipe is adapted from Jim Botsacos's version of the classic dish.
1 3 1/2-to-4-pound rabbit, cut into 4 leg/thigh joints and
the loin, with the loin tied (have the butcher do this,
or purchase the rabbit in pieces from a specialty market)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced red onions
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 cups dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup sweet red wine, such as Mavrodaphne or sweet Marsala,
or more if needed
1 16-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cups Chicken Stock (page 267) [which says main difference
is that it uses bay leaves rather than celery]
Bouquet Garni: 1 bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, 1
allspice berry, tied in a piece of cheesecloth with
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 pound pearl onions, blanched and peeled, or 1 1/2 cups frozen
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
For optional garnish:
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons diced and drained tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Season the rabbit pieces on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven and cook the rabbit, in batches if necessary, over medium-high heat, turning frequently, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer the rabbit to a platter and discard the oil.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot, reduce the heat to medium and saute the red onions until wilted and lightly colored, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Pour in both wines and boil over medium-high heat until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the pot and stir to combine, then return the rabbit to the pot with any juices from the platter, pour in the stock and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the bouguet garni and bring to a boil. Cover, place the pot in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 1 teaspoon of butter in a medium skillet, add the pearl onions, sprinkle with sugar and saute, over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the onions are golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Add the water and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions are easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the heat.
Add the onions to the Dutch oven, and cook for 30 minutes more, or until the rabbit is tender when pierced with a fork. Transfer the rabbit to a warm serving platter.
Discard the bouquet garni and bring the cooking juices to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the remaining 1 teaspoon butter. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding salt, pepper and/or a little more sweet wine if necessary. Ladle the sauce over the rabbit and serve.
For the garnish, if using: In a small skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil until it shimmers. Add the sliced onion and fry until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Garnish the rabbit with the crispy onion rings and diced tomatoes.
3 lbs pork shoulder, skin and bone removed
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium white onion, medium dice
2 tsp ancho chile powder
Cut the meat, with the fat, into 1-in cubes. Barely cover the meat with water in a heavy, wide pan. Add the salt, cumin, and half the cilantro; bring to a boil, uncovered. Lower to a simmer and cook undisturbed, until all the water has evaporated and meat is tender, but not falling apart, about 1 hour.
Lower heat and cook to render the fat, adding a few drops of oil, if necessary to get it started, keeping the fattiest parts of the meat near the bottom of the pot. Keep turning the meat until it is lightly browned all over, about 10 minutes. Some will stick to the bottom. Stir in the onions garlic, and chile powder, trying not to break up the meat too much.
Deglaze with 1/4 cup cold water. Cook for a few minutes more, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits.
Can be made 5 days in advance.
Notes: I took the advice of this much-lamented newsletter of the Culinary Institute of America (I curse the day they discontinued my subscription) and used this as a filling with grilled tortillas (right on the stove burner) with tomatoes and cheese and fresh cilantro. OMG - good.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon or more freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup lime juice or rice vinegar
1/2 cup nam pla or soy sauce
4 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
Chopped fresh cilantro, mint or Thai basil leaves (or a combination), optional
Lime wedges, optional.
1. Cut along each side of breastbone of each bird, then straight down through where thigh meets body to get 2 semi-boneless halves from each bird. (Don't worry if skin holding thigh and drumstick together separates.) Combine other ingredients except oil, herb and lime wedges and marinate for at least an hour, or overnight in a refrigerator, if you have time.
2. Drain quail of marinade and strain and reserve marinade. Pat birds dry. If you have a skillet large enough to hold quail in one layer, put oil in it; if not, put 2 tablespoons of oil in each of two skillets. Turn heat to high and, when oil is hot, saute quail, skin-side down, until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and brown other side for 2 or 3 minutes, or until quail are cooked through. Remove to a platter and keep warm.
3. Lower heat and remove any excess fat from skillet (there may not be any). Add strained marinade, along with 1/4 cup water, and raise heat to high. Cook, stirring and scraping any browned bits from bottom of pan, until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Spoon over quail and serve immediately, garnished, if you like, with herbs and lime.
Yield: 4 servings.
Notes: As you can see from the "after" picture, these were rended and devoured. Leftovers are good too. And since I didn't have fresh herbs on hand this time of year, I added about 1 tsp of dried cilantro leaves to the marinade. This had a very savory flavor which I most enjoyed.
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 TBSP dried lemongrass
5 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 TBSP fresh ginger, sliced
2 Thai red or green chilies, sliced
1 TBSP fish sauce, such as nam pla
3/4 tsp sugar (optional)
4-ounces canned straw mushrooms, rinsed
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled with tails on
1 lime, juiced
1/2 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Bring the stock and water to the boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chiles. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth. For convenience, I remove the lemongrass and lime leaves from the liquid before adding the shrimp. Authentic versions of the soup leave them in, you are expected to avoid eating them in your soup bowl.
Uncover and add the fish sauce and sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Toss in the shrimp and cook on very low heat (so the shrimp stay tender and juicy) for about 8 minutes until they turn pink. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice, green onions, mushrooms and cilantro. Taste for salt and spices; you should have an equal balance of spicy, salty, and sour. Keep tasting and adjusting with salt, fresh lime juice and if its not hot enough, one or two finely minced green chillies. Serve hot.
Notes: I also consulted Thai Foodby David Thompson (a 2003 IACP and James Beard award-winner) and Vatch's Thai Street Foodby Vatcharin Bhumichitr. I think next time I would like to use two stalks fresh lemongrass (sliced on a bias in 2 inch pieces). My taste probably runs to more lime than some, too. Overall, this came out rather well, I thought.