Greek Giouvetsi – Beef and orzo casserole

A delicious Beef and orzo casserole that comes with instructions on how to tenderize the meat using only salt! Try it and be amazed by the tenderness of the meat and the mouthwatering combination of beef cooked in a tomato sauce accompanied by a perfectly cooked orzo!  


The Beef Marinate

beef marinate

There are many other ways to marinate meat but this is the simplest and cheapest possible way to marinate and tenderize the meat. For ANY marinate to work in tenderizing your meat you must start with quality meat.  If the meat is of bad quality you will see no difference even if you marinate it and follow all of my instructions. So, make sure you get yourself great produce. Just keep in mind that great produce, when it comes to meat, it does not equal being very expensive. You can find good meat at normal prices.

For this marinate you only need salt and a good pat dry of your beef with kitchen paper before your sprinkle salt on it. The meat will marinate and it will naturally salt the rest of your food too, so do not add any additional salt to your pot.

This marinate works for beef, pork, lamb, mutton but it does not work for chicken.

How to tenderize the beef

beef simmering

The 800g of beef I mention in the recipe feeds 4 people and it is the perfect amount to add in a 26cm pot that does not crowd the meat. If you add too much meat inside your pot it will not saute but rather boil and we do not want that.

All the liquid ingredients should be added slowly while the beef is braising so that the temperature does not drop. If you shock your meat with cold ingredients while it’s cooking it often results in tough meat.

For soft and juicy meat you need to simmer it in low heat for many hours or use a pressure cooker.

Marinating your meat with salt for 1 hour tenderizes it, but if you salt it just before you add it to your pot it will toughen it. If you do not have time to marinate it for 1 hour, you may salt your meat after you have added all the ingredients inside your pot and the salt does not come in contact directly with the meat.

Tips and instructions for cooking Orzo

washing the orzo

I wash the orzo changing 4-5 water so that I get rid of its starch. I do that so that it remains “al dente” even on the next day. I boil the orzo before adding it to the baking tray with the beef because in that way it requires fewer liquids to cook. It uses only the beef’s stew sauce to cook and it tastes better because we do not have to add extra water to dilute the sauce for the orzo to cook.

Cooking it this way you don’t even need any measurements for the orzo/water ratio.


Greek Giouvetsi – Beef and orzo casserole

Prep: 1h | Cook: 1h 30m | Total: 2h 30m | Serves: 4


  • 800g Beef shank, cut into portions
  • 500g Orzo
  • 2 Onions, middle size coarsely chopped
  • 600g fresh tomatoes, grated (5 big ones)
  • 180g red wine (1 teacup)
  • ¼ tsp ground Cinnamon,
  • 2 grains of Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 5 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 handful of grated Kefalotyri for serving (optional)


  1. Wash the beef, wipe it with kitchen paper, and spread it on a plate.
  2. Add fine salt on all sides and let it marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
  3. Saute the onion with the garlic and olive oil in a large pot over high heat.
  4. Add all the spices (cumin, allspice, cinnamon) and then add the beef, and sauté it until it gets a nice color on all sides.
  5. Pour the wine little by little and let it cook for a while with an open lid so that the alcohol evaporates.
  6. Add the grated fresh tomatoes little by little and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 2 1/2 hours for a normal pot, stirring occasionally. If you have a pressure cooker then as soon as it whistles, lower your heat to the minimum your kitchen has, and let it cook for 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it cook for 1 hour.
  8. Once it is almost ready, preheat the oven to 200C /390F.
  9. Combine the Beef in tomato sauce with the orzo in a baking tray.
  10. Bake for about 20 minutes at 200C /390F.
  11. Serve with grated Kefalotyri cheese and enjoy!
giouvetsi nutrition facts

Did you make this recipe? Or are you planning to make it? Let me know in the comments below, tag me on Instagram @freshpiato or show me your photos on Pinterest!

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Hi, I'm Christina!

On this website, you will find a pinch of passion for cooking, a bunch of craziness, one liter of inspiration, and only great recipes that I have created with love! Follow me on an adventurous culinary journey  […]

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