Wednesday 30 November 2011

Kinda Beef Giouvetsi (BLW)

I get very excited when I find Greek ingredients in the UK, so I usually buy them, even if I don't really feel like eating them. This is the case with things like Caprice, the chocolate cigar waffers- which if you haven't tried, by the way, you really should! -, halva and kritharaki (a small rice-shaped pasta, also known as orzo in Italy). In fact it was orzo that I saw when I was shopping online about a year ago and got so excited that I bought it. A year later, it was still in my cupboard and still in date, so I decided it deserved using up.

I absolutely love Giouvetsi (the Greek meat dish that traditionally uses kritharaki). I love it, but for some reason eat it rarely. At home we only cooked once or twice a year. It is mostly done with lamb, and that meant I often wouldn't eat it, as I wasn't a keen meat eater in my teenage years. What I really love about Giouvetsi is the way the kritharaki pasta absorbs all the cooking sauces from the meat and gets a slightly sticky and rich quality to it.

As I mentioned, Giouvetsi is traditionally done with lamb, but people also use chicken, beef or pork for it. It is also normally cooked as a roast and then the kritharaki are added close to the end. This is NOT a traditional Greek Giouvetsi. It is my version of Giouvetsi, mostly because those were the ingredients I was working with on the day. Basically it is a slow cooked beef cheek, which I then bake with the kritharaki at the end. Like an alternative pasta with meat sauce. For the beef cheek I followed my recipe of Ox Cheek Ragu. 

Serves 4 plus baby/ toddler

600 g ox cheek (2 cheeks approx)
1 large onion, finely chopped
200 ml of water OR red wine OR stock (depending on how rich you want the sauce) - I used wine this time
350 ml tomato passata
1 bay leaf
1 stick of cinnamon
salt - optional if doing Baby Led Weaning
400g kritharaki
handful of finely chopped parsley

Cut the ox cheek in 3cm cubes and add to an oven proof casserole dish along with the chopped onion. Pour over the 200ml of water/wine/stock, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper and put in a low temperature oven (150 degrees) for one hour. After that take out of the oven, add the tomato passata and return to the oven for a further hour and a half to two hours. Finally remove from the oven, take the pieces of meat out of the sauce and shred (they should be so tender that they fall apart).

Once shredded, return to the dish, along with 400g of kritharaki or orzo. Add a glass of water and mix everything together. Return to the oven with the lid on (or with foil on top) and cook for 45 minutes, stirring it every now and then to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom. If it looks thick, add more liquid to it.

Once cooked, add the chopped parsley and serve with some grated Parmesan or Kefalotyri.


  1. I have found orzo in the deli in Atlantic Road, Brixton.

  2. Thank you for that. I actually found Kritharaki and other Greek products (including Greek egg dye for Easter) in the Turkish shop on Lordship Lane (number 18 I think)a few weeks ago.