My family is from the island of Kalymnos, part of a group of Greek islands known as the Dodecanese and located in the Aegean Sea. My husband on the other hand, is from Kerkyra, one of Greece’s Ionian islands and on opposite sides of the country. As we live here in New York, my in-laws live in Athens and my sister-in-law lives in Kerkyra, we’ve all gathered there the last four summers to spend a few weeks in each other's company. I've come to learn what many of the island's native dishes are and my favorite is something called Sofrito. It bears absolutely no relation to the similarly named Latin staple, but is just as delicious.
Having come back from Kerkyra just three days ago and with all the sights, smells and tastes fresh in our minds, I set out to replicate the dish without using a recipe per se. My version strays a little from the conventional dish, as I used ingredients I had handy since I’d only made one quick—extremely jet lagged— shopping trip since our return. I substituted readily available cubes of beef for the usual tender fillets of veal or beef used in the dish. And I added mushrooms since they were one of the items I’d managed to throw in the cart during my mad dash through the store yesterday.
2 pounds of stewing beef
Flour for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine
Beef stock/broth (water can also be used if you so desire)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan with lid. Season the beef with salt and pepper and then lightly dredge in the flour. Add the beef to the hot pan, browning the cubes well on both sides. You’ll probably want to do this in two batches, placing the browned meat on a dish when done.
Once all the meat has been browned and removed from the pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil and toss in the minced garlic and chopped parsley. When the garlic is quite fragrant and the parsley seems to wilt, add the vinegar and wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits.
Return the meat to the pan and add enough beef broth—or water—to almost cover the meat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and shake the pan to gently mix the ingredients. Cover and cook on medium low for about an hour and fifteen minutes or so. Add sliced mushrooms and gently shake the pan again to mix. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes or until the meat is fork tender.
Serve with rice and loads of bread.