Youvetsi is a popular and comforting Greek stew made with tender bits of lamb or beef and cooked with small noodles such as orzo. Red meat is the more typical choice, however you may also make it with chicken.
For this easy, modern riff from The Mediterranean Dish, they instruct to use a large, heavy ceramic braising dish with a lid. In it, the tender pieces of lamb (or beef) and orzo will cook together in an aromatic tomato sauce with garlic, oregano, and other comforting Greek flavors.
Keep in mind, this is not a quick weeknight meal. This Greek lamb stew is best enjoyed straight from the pan, when the orzo is perfectly cooked. However, any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. And once you taste it, you’ll hope to have leftovers to reheat during the week. The recipe can easily be cut in half if you are so inclined.
Youvetsi: Greek Lamb Stew with Orzo
- 2 lbs. lamb shoulder (boneless, or lamb leg, trimmed of fat and cut into small 1-inch chunks)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large onions, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cup dry red wine (and a glass for yourself 😉
- 2 tsp. dry oregano
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 bay leaf
- 2, 28 oz. cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- 2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Feta cheese for garnish, optional
- Pat the lamb dry and season with kosher salt and black pepper.
- In a large, ceramic braising pan or heavy pan with a lid, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the lamb and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, tossing regularly, until browned. Transfer the lamb to a large plate for now.
- In the same pan, add the onions and garlic. Season with kosher salt. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened.
- Return the lamb to the pan. Add the red wine, oregano, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg and bay leaf. Cook until the wine has reduced by at least ½, then add 1 cup of water and the tomatoes. Break the tomatoes up using a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the lamb is cooked through.
- Stir in the orzo and cover the pan. Let cook for another 20 minutes or until the orzo has cooked through and most of the moister has been absorbed. Move off the heat and let sit another 5-10 minutes so that the orzo absorbs more moisture.
- Garnish with parsley and crumbled feta, if you like, before serving.
Adapted from a recipe for MediterraneanDish.com