Youvetsi

Serves 10 to 12

Youvetsi is a Greek stew, traditionally made for Sunday lunches. This would have you up really early on a Sunday morning, so I recommend you rather serve it for dinner, or get it going the day before because of its lengthy cooking time. The upside is that this is a dish that you can leave to cook in the background while you get on with your day. The simplicity of it is deliciously rewarding and it’s a dish that certainly goes a long way – perfect for large Easter family gatherings.

Here’s what goes in

  • 1 large leg of lamb, bone in (about 2kg to 2.5kg)
  • Olive oil
  • Meat seasoning
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 2 cups of Orzo (pasta rice)
  • 2 medium-sized onions, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic, whole but peeled
  • 1 teaspoon of Greek origanum
  • 2 cups of red wine
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tins of chopped and peeled tomato (410g each)

How to do it

Preheat the oven to 200°C. In a large roasting pan, coat the leg of lamb in a few good lugs of olive oil and add the meat seasoning and salt. Place it in the oven to brown and crisp up a little. After about fifteen minutes, remove the pan from the oven, and add the onions, garlic, red wine, chicken stock, water, tomatoes and origanum. Immediately turn the oven down to 150°C and cover the dish with a large piece of tinfoil – shiny side facing down. You can now leave this to cook on a low temperature for approximately 6 hours, but you should check the liquid level to make sure it isn’t drying out and turn the meat 2 or 3 times over this period.

Once the meat is tender and easily falls off the bone, you can get the Orzo ready. Using a sieve, thoroughly rinse the pasta rice under cold, running water to remove the starch. Remove the pan from the oven and roughly shred the lamb, discarding the bone. Now add the pasta rice and distribute this with the meat evenly throughout the pan, making sure that the Orzo is submerged in liquid. Top up with stock or water if there isn’t enough.  The idea here is that the pasta rice will cook in the liquid. Turn the oven up to 170°C and return the pan to the oven with the foil now completely removed. After about half an hour, the pasta should be cooked and most of the liquid absorbed, without being dried out. Give it a good stir, taste test your seasoning and serve it straight out of the pan!

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