Moshari Yiouvetsi: Beef & Pasta Casserole
3 - 3 1/2 pounds of stew meat, cut into serving-sized chunks (not bite-sized)
6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions, minced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1 small hot pepper (Hungarian wax-type)
1 pound of ripe tomatoes or 3 cups of canned stewed tomatoes
2 allspice berries
4 cups of beef broth or water
1 pound of small or medium kritharakia (orzo barley pasta)
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
grated kefalotyri or pecorino cheese (or regato)
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the meat in 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until browned on all sides (about 10 minutes). Remove the meat with tongs or a spoon (do not pierce with a fork) and set aside.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and sauté the onion, garlic, and whole hot pepper until the onion softens. Add the water or broth, allspice, tomatoes, pepper, and meat (using tongs or a spoon). Stir to mix and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender (about 1 hour). With a wooden spoon, stir in salt and orzo, cover and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 355F (180C).
Spoon the meat into a yiouvetsi (clay casserole) or oven-safe covered casserole dish, and pour the orzo and liquids around the meat. Cover and bake for approximately 50 minutes, until the orzo is cooked and there's still some liquid sauce.
Remove from oven and let rest, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve with grated cheese.