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Arni Youvetsi – Lamb with Orzo Recipe

Arni Youvetsi

This recipe was shared with me many years ago by a friend’s Greek grandmother. It is my go-to recipe when I need something flavorful and satisfying for a dinner with friends. You can make it ahead and entertain your guests while it simmers, because it requires very little attention once it is in the oven. Pair it with a hearty red wine and serve with a green salad and crusty fresh-baked bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 2 pounds (0.5 – 1 kg) lamb shoulder or small leg of lamb
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) tomato paste
  • 1 cup (235 g) chopped/diced tomatoes (or one can diced tomatoes)
  • 3  cups (700 g) broth (vegetable or beef)
  • ½ (120 g) cup red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon (5 g) ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 ounces (230 g) orzo pasta
  • Ground pepper and salt
  • 1 cup (235 g) kefalotyri cheese- grated for garnish (or use a good grated pecorino-romano)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 325 F (163 C).
  • Season lamb with oil, kosher salt and pepper.
  • Heat oil in Dutch oven on medium-high.
  • Sauté onion until translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Add garlic and sauté until aromatic (do not allow the garlic to burn), then add lamb.
  • Sear lamb to lock in juices. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side, then remove from pan.
  • Deglaze Dutch oven: Increase heat to high, and add red wine; it will begin to boil very quickly. With tongs or a wooden spoon, scrape pan to get all bits of lamb, onions and garlic incorporated into the wine, as the alcohol evaporates.
  • Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes (with juices), broth, cinnamon and bay leaf to Dutch oven and bring to a bubble.
  • Return lamb to Dutch oven.
  • Remove from stovetop and place, covered, in oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  • Add orzo after about 1 hour. Stir, adding more liquid if necessary or leaving uncovered if there is too much liquid and raise oven temperature to 350 F (177 C) .
  • Serve pieces of lamb on a bed of orzo in a small casserole or crock, and top generously with grated cheese.

This recipe also works well in a crock pot! For a crock pot, cook for 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. Reduce the amount of broth to 1 ½ cups.

Questions?

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