I was always a huge fan of the Greek cuisine and even more so since spending my amazing honeymoon visiting the Greek Islands. This cuisine is known for utilizing a lot of lamb. The simplicity of the ingredients is what truly makes this cuisine a joy to prepare and to eat.
Yiouvetsi dishes are most often made with chunks of meat – beef and lamb are the most popular, but this recipe with ground lamb is a delight and easier on the budget. This recipe also calls for the use of the traditional orzo pasta (however other pasta types should work equally as well).
This dish turned out absolutely wonderful in my favorite Le Creuset Dutch Oven.
- 1 pound of ground lamb
- 2 tbs + 2 tbs of olive oil
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
- 1½ cans of chopped or crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup of water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1½ cups of orzo pasta (or other small pasta)
- 4 cups of boiling chicken broth or stock
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
- grated cheese (optional)
- Over medium heat, brown the lamb in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, using a fork to separate the meat out into small pieces. (Note: because ground lamb is softer than ground beef, be careful not mash it when breaking it up.)
- When meat is browned just to the point where it doesn’t look red, transfer to a colander and drain.
- Over medium heat, sauté chopped onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the onion turns translucent, stir in drained lamb, tomatoes, ½ cup of water, 1 rounded teaspoon of sea salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. When it reaches a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your preference.
- In a saucepan, bring chicken broth or stock to a boil (I used my own homemade chicken stock that I had previously frozen for later use).
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Discard the bay leaf, and transfer the meat mixture to a greased baking or oven-safe casserole dish. Add boiling stock or broth, and stir in the pasta.
- Cook uncovered in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the pasta is done and almost the liquid has been absorbed. Stir once or twice during cooking.
- Remove pot from the oven and cover with a cotton towel for 20 minutes (to absorb excess moisture).
- Stir in the fresh parsley just before serving, and add an optional topping of grated cheese.