Stifado, as the Greeks name their spicy beef stew, has long been a favorite of my non-Greek relatives. In this flavorful combination of soft beef, onions, tomatoes, and seasonings, pieces of pumpkin are at home, cooking gently and uninterrupted until serving time. Use 3 pounds of dried green bell onions if time is an issue. This stew may be served in a pumpkin for a holiday touch.
1 PoundFresh Pumpkin, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces, seeds and fibers scraped (about 2 cups)
In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter and oil over moderate flame. Add the meat, season with salt and pepper, and toss with the oil and butter to moisten and lightly brown.Onions' root and stem tips should be cut off. To protect the onions from breaking off, make a tiny X at the root end. Take the skins off the onions and place them on top. You can parboil the onions for 1 min in a big pot of boiling water to release the skins.Add the onions over the meat along with the mixture of wine, vinegar, sugar, tomato sauce, and garlic. Then add the cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, currants (if using), and cumin. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce to low heat and cover for 2 hours. Stirring is not allowed. In a small bowl, gently put the pumpkin pieces into the broth. Cover and simmer for a further hour, just until the beef is very soft.Also, preheat the oven to 350 degrees if presenting the stew in a pumpkin. Take out the seeds and threadlike insides of the pumpkin by cutting off the head. Simply wash and pat dry. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until readily punctured with a fork but not crumbling, after rubbing the exterior with vegetable oil and placing on a jelly-roll pan. Place the heated pumpkin on a dish to serve.Scoop a chunk of pumpkin with each dish of stew and pour the heated stew into the cooked pumpkin. This recipe serves 6 people