Meat with orzo pasta, our beloved “giouvetsi”


Meat with orzo rice, or “giouvetsi”

Giouvetsi” is my favorite dish to serve at a  spontaneous get together with friends. I prepare the meat and orzo rice whenever I have time during the day and then I combine them and throw in the oven with Parmesan cheese on top for  half an hour before dinner time. It’s never failed me! It comes out sizzling hot and smelling delicious.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef, cut in medium size chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 large can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • 1 packet orzo pasta or `kritharaki’
  • chopped parsley (optional)

How to make: In a large, deep pan saute the onions and meat. When the meat is browned add the wine and cook for a few minutes.  Add the tomato sauce, salt & pepper to taste and, optionally, the  cinnamon sticks. Reduce the heat and cook for about half an hour or until the meat is tender. At the same time, cook the pasta in a big pot with water and salt. When ready, drain the pasta and put back in the pot. Drizzle some olive oil. Forty-five minutes before serving time, pre-heat the oven at  375F/190C, combine the meat with the pasta in a big pyrex (or special “giouvetsi”  dish if you have one), mix in the parsley (optional), add the Parmesan on top and cook for half an hour. Serve immediately.

Notes and tips:  Most people I know like to cook the pasta in the oven, which is, of course,  fine. I used to do that myself,  but I don’t see any significant difference in the taste. The half hour that I put the meat with the pasta in the oven is more than enough to get the flavor and you don’t run the risk of overcooking the pasta (you have to be precise with the amount of water you add).  Your choice.

Update January 2nd, 2015

Last year I brought this wonderful “gastra”, a kind of Dutch Oven,  from Greece. I got it from Tempi, a must-stop when you travel from Thessaloniki to Athens. Tempi is a magical area near Larissa. The  Pineios river goes through a gorge, a narrow passage of tall rocky landforms, which are covered with greenery. At the stop there’s a picturesque bridge that you can cross over and visit a small church. On the roadside there are beautiful displays of all sorts of pottery and the greatest collection of “gastra” pots you have seen. The summer of 2013, I got a gigantic one that fits two legs of lamb and last summer I got this family sized one. These pots are good to use in the oven but also directly on fire. The perfect pot for giouvetsi!

"Giouvetsi" in a "Gastra", Greek Dutch Over made of clay.

“Giouvetsi” in a “Gastra”, Greek Dutch Over made of clay.

 

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