A few weeks ago, I went to Greektown with my friend for dinner. I was meeting her there and was a little early, so I decided to duck into the Greek market. I hardly ever go there because it’s really out of the way and it always seems to be closed when I’m in the area. Whenever I go, I tend to stock up on…well, cheese, primarily. (And, shh, don’t tell but I prefer the Bulgarian feta to the Greek kind).
At any rate, when I was browsing the aisles for long, tubular noodles for making pastitsio, I came across hilopites and just about ran up to the clerk to hug him. I had never seen them there before, and I have been wanting (and searching for) hilopites for a while now. Hilopites are small, square egg noodles. When I was young, about 90% of my diet consisted of things with hilopites and soups made with fithe (or is it fide? Or…I can never type Greek words in English. But, it’s similar to vermicelli.)
Hilopites are just one of those things that are so nostalgic for me. To be honest, more than anything, they bring back memories of what a picky eater I was. I remember visiting Greece and begging my great aunt to make me plain broth with fide or hilopites every day I was there. I probably haven’t eaten them in a good 15 years. So maybe now you understand why I was SO excited to find them!
This recipe is really nothing new. It’s similar to my manestra but with a little added spice. I make something like this very often, both with beef and with chicken (dark meat). Sometimes I just serve the sauce over spaghetti instead of cooking pasta along with the meat. Sometimes I use allspice and bay instead of cinnamon and cloves. But I always top it with myzithra :)
You’ll have to excuse the monotone picture, here. I forgot to put the extra parsley on before photographing!
Beef with Hilopites
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. beef, cut into 1″ pieces
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. dried or about 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups water
1/4 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 lb. hilopites
salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a deep saute pan. Season the beef with salt and pepper and then add to the oil to brown, in batches if necessary. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Stir in the garlic and parsley (if you are using dried) and saute an additional minute before adding the tomato paste. Cook off the tomato paste for about 30 seconds, and then add the water. Be sure to scrape all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the cinnamon, cloves, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then add the beef back in. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour or really as long as you’d like (the longer you simmer, the more tender the beef gets).
Add the hilopites and simmer, uncovered, until done, stirring occasionally. If you are using fresh parsley add it around the same time as you add the hilopites.