Despite our days still being full of sunshine here on Corfu island, with pretty high temperatures for November, the evenings are drawing in and the fires are being lit to ward off the much colder nights.
So our thoughts turn to winter warming foods that will provide taste and comfort as the fresh salads of summer fade away.
Luckily Greek cuisine is full of hearty, mostly one pot, dishes rich in history as well as flavour giving us plenty of choice to see us through the winter.
Moskari Kokkinisto (literally reddened beef) is one of my favourites, full of slow cooked, fork tender beef in a spicy tomato sauce it is a simple dish to prepare and the slow cooking will fill your home with its wonderful aroma. Traditionally served with thick spaghetti it goes equally well with rice or oven potatoes.
Every house in Greece has a red sauce recipe, handed down from one generation to the next, so you will find many variations of this recipe dependant on region, village and indeed home.
1kg good quality stewing beef – cubed
2 Red onions – roughly chopped
2 Garlic cloves chopped
4 ripe tomatoes – peeled and chopped (you can use tinned if necessary)
1 tsp tomato puree (paste) – dissolve it in a cup of water
100 ml Olive Oil
1 glass red wine
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
400g of spaghetti (if using)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grated cheese to serve (I like to use Kefolatyri but any hard cheese will do)
1) Wash the beef and pat dry. Heat a large pan on high then add the oil and beef to brown. Do the beef in batches if necessary, it needs room in the pan to brown properly, do not stir, this process of sealing the meat makes sure the beef remains moist.
2) Once done, remove beef and keep to one side. Reduce the heat and add onion and cook until soft, then add garlic and cook for about a minute until you can smell it.
3) Turn the heat back up and add your glass of wine, cook until it’s almost all evaporated.
4) Add the rest of the ingredients and when the sauce comes up to a boil return the browned beef to the pan with enough hot water to nearly cover, turn the heat down to low and simmer gently for one and a half hours with a lid partially off to allow some steam to escape.
You should end up with quite a thick sauce with beautifully tender pieces of beef. Once it is ready you can prepare the spaghetti or whatever you have chosen to serve it with. It tastes so good even just a few slices of crusty bread will be perfect to mop up the sauce.
And of course, like most traditional Greek dishes this will taste even better the next day so it’s a great dish to prepare ahead!