Today I share with you a recipe for beef guvec with pasta. Guvec is a generic term of Turkish origin, meaning a stew cooked in an earthenware pot.
The word guvec (güveç) is derived from an Altaic word for a clay cooking vessel. From Turkey it has spread throughout the region, with slight variations on the name. In the Balkans it is djuvec, in Romania it is known as ghiveci, while in Cyprus it is called yiouvetsi.
This hearty dish can be made in any type of oven-proof pan, but clay or earthenware pots are preferred because they impart a heady, earthy aroma to the stew. To make the pots, straw, hay, sawdust, wood ash, sand and water are added to the clay. It is then kneaded until there are no air bubbles left in it. Then it is shaped by hand or on a potter’s wheel and left to partially dry. While still partially wet, it is scraped to smooth the pores of the pot, thus ensuring that it is impermeable. It is covered and left to dry completely, then glazed and fired in a kiln.
I used the pot that was given to me by Marion, Manolis’s wife. It is a “terrine”, made in Alsace.
I have photographed it top – down, so that you can see the beautiful lid covering the pot, and also the fact that when I bake I use aluminum foil to block as much steam as possible. And I do this becasue the secret to preparing güveç is the slow cooking in the closed pot, which brings out the flavors of all the ingredients.
Guvec in Greece is usually made with red meat, although sometimes people also use chicken.
In today’s dish I use osso bucco, i.e. the shank, with the bone, that gives it super flavor.
First I brown the meat, colour is flavor!!! I use olive oil, but you can also use butter.
After browning, I put the meat with the bones in the pot. I bake for 2 hours in 200 degrees centigrade. If the meat is a thicker cur, you have to leave it for more time.
After this first stage of cooking, I add tomatoes to the pot and a bit of tomato paste, and the pasta. Please note that there must be enough liquid in the pot so that the pasta cooks, without becoming like mush.
There are two types of pasta used in the Greek dish. One is with pine kernel like pasta, called “kritharaki” in Greek. The other is short hollow pasta, called “kofto” in Greek. In the version I present today, I used “kofto”.
Today I used the “brown” pasta made by Misko. I highly recommend this to the Greek readers, it is much tastier than the white stuff. Once the pasta is added, cover and return to the oven for another 35 minutes.
Do not hesitate, take it out of the oven, and serve it steaming hot.
Enjoy it with a nice glass of a full-bodied red wine, like “ksinomavro”, from the North og Greece.