When my family and I went to Greece on vacation earlier this year we re-discovered an old favorite dish that I used to make years ago called Giouvetsi (pronounced: yoo-VET-see). Some people also spell it Giouvetsi or Yuvetsi, but hey, it’s all Greek to me!
Basically this dish can be made with beef, lamb or chicken but the principle is the same. We’re going to slow cook the meat in a fantastic tomato based sauce with a few essential Greek seasonings until the meat is so tender it falls apart. Then, we’re going to add in some Greek rice-shaped pasta and bake the whole thing until it absorbs all that saucy goodness!
Damn! It’s making me hungry just writing about it, so let’s get to it!
Gather all these things before you begin. I know it’s kind of a long list, but believe me – it’s worth it!
- 3 – 3 1/2 pounds of stew meat, cut into approximately 2″-3″ cubes
- 3 cups of canned diced or stewed tomatoes (based on your “chunkiness” preference)
- 2 – 16 oz cans of tomato sauce
- 3 cups of water
- 1/2 large onion, minced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 pound of small or medium kritharakia (orzo pasta)
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon allspice
- Extra Virgin Greek olive oil
- Grated Kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese
- In a large pan saute the meat in 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until just browned on all sides.
- Be careful not to over cook the meat as we’re just trying to lock in the juices by searing the sides a bit.
- Remove the meat with tongs or a spoon (do not pierce with a fork or you release the juices) and set aside.
- Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and sautÃƒÂ© the onion until it softens.
- Add red wine, water, oregano, garlic powder, allspice, tomatoes, pepper, and meat (using tongs or a spoon).
- Stir to mix and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender (about 45 minutes – 1 hour).
- Remove from heat, stir in salt and orzo, cover and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spoon the meat into a large casserole dish, or several smaller ones (preferred for presentation purposes), and pour or ladle the orzo and liquids around the meat. If using multiple dishes ensure that you distribute the ingredients and sauce evenly. The Orzo needs plenty of fluids to absorb while it bakes. Remember, it’s pasta! If your mix looks too thick you can add a little water and stir before you bake it.
- Cover and bake for approximately 50 minutes, until the orzo is cooked and there’s still some liquid sauce.
- Pull it out of the oven and eat it hot! For those who appreciate it, put the grated cheese on top of the dish and you can even put it under the broiler for about 5 minutes to brown the cheese.