Sunday, January 15, 2012

Giouvetsi (aka Youvetsi) - Greek Baked Beef & Orzo

Giouvetsi is a traditional Greek dish of meat, baked in a tomato sauce and served with pasta, typically kritharaki (meaning "small barley") or hilopites, though many people simply use orzo. Traditionally, this dish is made with lamb and cooked in a yiouvetsi, which is a deep, round clay pot used for baking, much like the Japanese donabe, though a casserole dish or Dutch oven works just as well. My version, however, is made with beef (lamb is expensive, y'all!). 

My first experience with giouvetsi was at a local Greek restaurant called Nabeel's. Here in Birmingham, we have a PLETHORA of great Middle Eastern food, from 24-hour Mediterranean/American post-bar joints where you can get amazing gyros or bacon cheeseburgers, to authentic Lebanese food. However, Nabeel's is TRULY Greek. Their version is known as "youvetsaki", and is served in its own casserole dish, with a fresh salad and crusty bread. 

Recently, I was craving youvetsaki, but didn't really feel like driving down to Homewood or fighting for a parallel spot on the street. So I decided to try my hand at making it myself. Bonus - it can all be made in one pot (and I know you guys know how much I love a good one-pot recipe!). 

Since the beef is stewed prior to baking, cheaper cuts of beef turn out melt-in-your-mouth tender. AND, I managed to find some lovely chuck roast on sale as well. WIN WIN!

Giouvetsi (Greek Baked Beef & Orzo)
adapted from One Man's Blog

Extra virgin olive oil
1 3lb chuck roast, cut into 2"-3" cubes
1/2 large onion, minced
3 cups water
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground allspice
3 cups canned diced or crushed tomatoes
2 16oz cans tomato sauce
1 Tbsp salt
1 lb orzo pasta
Grated Kefalotyri cheese (substiture Parmagiano-Reggiano)

Cook the meat in 3 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just browned/seared on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Add 3 Tbsp olive oil to the pan; saute the onion until softened. Add the water, red wine, pepper, oregano, garlic powder and allspice. Stir in the tomatoes & tomato sauce. 

Return the meat to the pan; stir to mix, then cover and simmer over low heat for 45-60 minutes or until the meat is tender.

Remove from heat, stir in salt and orzo,then cover and let stand for 2-3 minutes. Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for about 45-50 minutes or until the orzo is cooked and some liquid still remains.

Serve topped with grated cheese.


  1. Hey, thanks for the recipe. Just popped this into oven, with wine and beef it promises to be super tasty.

    Cooked giouvetsi before with chicken. Waiting for friends over who know what I will be cooking and bet they will be expecting chicken. They are in for a big surprise ;D

    1. You're very welcome! I hope everything turned out well and that your guests were pleased! :)