In Greek, Youvetsi (pronounced: yoo-VEH-tsee) is a wonderful traditional Greek stew. The meat gets it flavors from the tomato base, cinnamon, and added cheese. The orzo soaks up all the wonderful flavors as well making this dish absolutely amazing.
Youvetsi was one of the first Greek stews we have ever made. Its popularity persuaded us to create a dish that everyone would not only love, but become a go-to lamb based stew.
Jane and I also love making this for people who think they don’t like lamb. This seems to be a dish we’ve “converted” the most people into loving lamb or at least had friends who didn’t favor lamb actually enjoy this meal. The simplicity of Greek cuisine is really shown with this recipe. There aren’t a ton of spices, however everything works to create something delicious.
We think the secret is the slow simmering, allowing the meat to get tender and take in all the wonder flavors and the hint of cinnamon ties it all together.
We’ve made this a few different ways:
- We’ve cooked the orzo separate and then added it to the mixture. This gives a lot more liquid to the stew, so you can ladle in the amount you wish to the oven safe dish before placing it into the oven.
- We’ve added the uncooked orzo to the meat mixture and cooked it – then added it to the oven safe pan for baking. If doing this, add orzo 10-12 min before the meat is to be done (about 40-45min).
The 2nd way we really like a lot. We felt the orzo took in all the wonderful flavors more than the first method. However, there isn’t a lot of liquid left if done this way, as the orzo absorbs a fair amount of it. We’re okay with that because we prefer less liquid.
Both ways produce an excellent meal, so which ever interest you, we’re positive you’ll have a great experience and a fantastic meal.
- 1lb lamb, cut into squares
- 1 cup orzo
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup diced tomatoes, canned
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ cup Parmesan
- Salt & Pepper (to taste)
- Heat pan with olive oil.
- Add lamb, sear on all sides.
- Add onion and garlic.
- Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, wine, oregano, cinnamon stick, and salt and pepper.
- Add enough water to cover meat.
- Bring to boil and reduce heat.
- Simmer 30-45min, until cooked.
- With 10min left, make orzo in separate pan*
- Line baking dish with half orzo mixture, add meat mixture, add remaining orzo.
- Add 3 ladles of liquid (from meat mixture) to baking dish.**
- Top with parmesan.
- Bake 350 degrees for 15min.
- καλή όρεξη (kali orexi – enjoy your meal!)
**Add all of remaining liquid from meat mixture to create a traditional stew.