Imagine tender and juicy pieces of beef (veal), baked in the oven on a bed of tomato sauce with orzo (called Kritharaki in Greek). It’s one of the most popular traditional Greek dishes that no one can resist. I had tasted this casserole once at a small tavern located in a village near the Olympus mountain. It was slowly cooked in a wood burning oven. I would definitely go back, just to live this divine experience once again.
Hands on: 5-6 min
Cooking Time: 20min + 25min
1,2kg (2,6 lb) beef neck cut into 4cm cubes
500gr (17,6 oz) orzo (I use wholegrain for more fiber)
3 garlic cloves
1 carrot (whole)
1 leek (whole-the white part)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 can (400gr - 14,5 oz) chopped tomatoes or 5 fresh
1 pinch of sugar
1 bay leaf
3 whole allspice berries
½ cup red wine
4 tablespoons olive oil + 4 tablespoons for sautéing the orzo
1 lt (33,8 fl.oz) boiling water
Grated hard cheese (gruyere) or crumbled Feta cheese
How to do it
Place a deep pot over high heat and let it get very hot.
Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and the cubes of meat. Brown for 3-4 minutes on each side.
Add the onion, the garlic, the carrot and the leek. Stir and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the tomato paste and sauté for 1 minute to remove its bitterness.
Add the wine and let it evaporate.
Add the chopped tomatoes, the pinch of sugar, the bay leaf, the allspice and the boiling water.
Cover the pot with lid, lower the heat (2 in a scale of 9) and simmer for 1 hour until the meat is very soft and the sauce has thickened. If your sauce is too thick, add a little more water. If you have a pressure cooker you only need 20 minutes to get the meat softened.
In the meantime place a pan over medium to high heat.
Add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and the orzo.
Sauté the orzo for 3-4 minutes, until golden.
When the meat is ready, remove the whole vegetables from the pot and season with salt and pepper.
Take an oven proof dish, add the orzo and the meat with the tomato sauce above. The sauce must completely cover the orzo (3cm above). If not add some boiling water.
Preheat oven to 160o C (320*oF) Fan and bake for 25 minutes. After the first 15 min stir.
Let it rest for 10 min and serve with grated hard cheese (gruyere) or crumbled Feta cheese.
If you will not serve your casserole immediately, add some more boiling water, before you put it in the oven (4 cm above the orzo).
If you don’t want your Orzo to stick, always sauté the Orzo with olive oil in a pan just before you put it in the oven with your cooked beef-tomato sauce.
Sauté the tomato paste for 1-2 minutes to help remove its bitterness. This also helps to thicken the sauce.
You can make ahead your beef-tomato sauce and freeze. Then preparing a “Greek Giouvetsi” will take only 30 minutes.