“Manestra” is basically the Greek word for orzo. Usually when you say you are eating manestra, though, it means orzo cooked with some sort of meat on the stovetop. It can be made with chicken (and I definitely recommend it be a dark meat, bone-in), lamb, or beef. “Youvetsi,” on the other hand, is typically a cut of lamb with orzo that is made in the oven instead of a stovetop.
Last night we had manestra with beef or “kreas.” We usually have this with chicken, so this is a nice change. The ingredients are really simple and things I always have around, so this often tends to be an end-of-the-grocery-cycle meal
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1.25 lb. beef, cut into cubes/bite sized pieces (stew meat is fine) or lamb
3 cups water or beef broth
1/2 can (3oz) tomato paste
8 oz. orzo
salt and pepper
cheese, for topping
Heat the olive oi in a large pan/saute pan. Liberally salt and pepper beef. Add to pan and brown on all sides (add more oil if necessary). Remove and set aside. Add onions to the pan and cook until tender. Stir in garlic and tomato paste. Cook until just fragrant and tomato paste has cooked off a little, about 45 seconds.
Stir in water, being sure to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, add meat back in and then reduce to a simmer. Salt and pepper to taste.Simmer for an hour or as long as you’d like, to tenderize beef.
Stir in orzo. Cook, uncovered, until orzo is tender and has absorbed almost all of the liquid, stirring occasionally.
Top with grated cheese (the best thing you could do is top it with some myzithra, my favorite Greek cheese by far and the one that goes best on pastas and tomato-based sauces; I also like pecorino with this a lot!)