Slow cooked lamb with orzo pasta • Youvesti
This is a wonderful one pot dish perfect for large gatherings or the whole family, real comfort food…great for fussy eaters. My family daren’t even try fussing as they will have the wrath of their nurturing grandmother.I like to serve Youvesti with plenty of thick Greek yogurt.
5 tbsp of olive oil
800g of boned shoulder, or leg of
lamb trimmed, cut into 5cm
3 large red onions, finely
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 x 400g cans of plum tomatoes
4 heaped tbsp of tomato purée
4 pieces of cassia bark
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
2 glasses (400g) of pasta
klitharaki or orzo pasta
one good handful of grated hard
cheese, ideally kefalotiri, or
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.
Heat the oil in a heavy casserole dish and fry the lamb in batches until sealed and browned on all sides. Scoop out using a slotted spoon, transfering to a plate.
Add a little more oil to the casserole dish, if necessary, and then cook the onions, stirring, until they start to turn golden then add the garlic. Tip in the tomatoes, crushing them with a wooden spoon then stir in the purée. Season with salt and pepper, add the cassia bark and cinnamon.
Return the meat back into the pan then let everything bubble for a few minutes. Now tip in 4 glasses (800ml) of boiled hot water.
Cover and cook for no less than 1 hour, up to 2 hours even or until the meat is tender. Then stir in the pasta, cover and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, adding a splash or more of water (or white wine) if the lamb looks as if it is drying out and the pasta is in need of help.
When the pasta is just tender, remove from the oven, stir in the cheese. Adjust the seasoning, then straight to the table.
If you intend to jump in and embrace my recipes, find a good Greek or middle Eastern delicatessen, requesting cassia bark, the tree bark and so much more subtle than the strong cinnamon quills or sticks…you will be converted!