Greek Youvetsi or Giouvetsi is comfort food heaven, featuring lamb cooked with red wine & tomatoes before being baked in the oven with orzo.
This a slow-cooked dish, but it can be prepared to different stages and thrown in the oven later, or even baked to completion and reheated!
Baked Greek Lamb with Orzo
I adore cooking with lamb and mutton and use it in a whole host of globally influenced recipes.
My latest bit of lamby goodness is Greek in influence, youvetsi or giouvetsi as it is also known.
It is an obscenely good stew that combines lamb, tomatoes, red wine and orzo or kritharaki if you can find it.
It’s a dish that has become a firm favourite during its development time in my kitchen. It’s also super simple to make.
You fry the lamb and then cook a load of onions in the lamb fat, add red wine and tomatoes.
The lamb is gently cooked in the tomato sauce before being added to a baking dish. Then you toast off the pasta, add it to the lamb, pour in a bit of stock and chuck it in the oven.
The resulting stew is rich, thick and packed to the gunnels with flavour!
Frequently Asked Questions
What cut of lamb should I use?
To my mind lamb shoulder is the best cut of lamb for this recipe. I like it because it contains different types of fat and that really amps up the flavour.
Another good option would be neck of lamb. It is a lovely cut of meat in the recipe, but slightly more difficult to find and a little more pricy!
Can I make this in advance?
Yes, you can do this in a couple of ways, you can make the lamb stew, then place it in the fridge for up to a couple of days. You can even freeze this for up to 3 months.
Or you could cook the entire dish and then refrigerate it for a couple of days, to reheat just cover it with foil and place it in the oven.
I am not keen on freezing this recipe when it is completely cooked.
Can I use fresh mint rather than dried mint?
I would not, the flavour of dried mint is similar but very different to dried mint!
Does the type of wine I use matter?
My usual rule of thumb when it comes to choosing wine for cooking is whether I would drink it. If the answer is no then I won’t cook with it.
The only thing to avoid in this recipe is red wines from the sweeter end of the spectrum.
Youvetsi is a classic one-bowl meal as far as I am concerned, and this recipe is generously sized for two.
But that does not mean that it can’t get a few sprinkles, a bit of salad and of course some bread!
Feta cheese is wonderful crumbled over this simple stew, I like to add a load of chopped parsley to it in order to freshen up the dish a little.
The salad always ends up being whatever salad leaves that I have dressed in a little olive oil. But you could also whip up an easy Greek salad with olives, tomatoes, cucumber and the aforementioned feta cheese.
I am equally “functional” when it comes to my bread of choice, I’ll usually cut a hunk of whatever I have at home.
If I have any leftover pita bread lying around in the freezer I will cut them up and throw them in the air fryer to crisp up and use them to scoop up the thick and lovely stew.
I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 28cm or 11″ frying pan or skillet, not nonstick if possible.
- 25cm x 15cm (10″ x 6″) baking or casserole dish.
- Kitchen knife.
- Chopping board.
- Kitchen tongs, stirring and serving spoons.
- Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
Greek youvetsi or giouvetsi is a gloriously hearty baked stew that combines lamb in a red wine and tomato sauce with orzo and cooks it until it is beautifully thick and bubbly... it's perfect comfort food!
- 300g (11oz) Diced Lamb Shoulder
- 200g (1⅓ Cup) Onion
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- ½ Tsp Salt
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 2 Cloves
- 1 Tsp Dried Mint
- 1 Bay Leaf
- ½ Tsp Sugar
- ½ Tsp Black Pepper
- 175ml (¾ Cup) Red Wine
- 400g (14oz) Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 150g (⅔-¾ Cup) Orzo
- 350ml (1½ Cups) Lamb Stock
- If your lamb is not already diced cut it into a 1.5cm (½") dice.
- Cut the onion in half, peel it and then cut it into a 5-6mm (½") dice.
- Peel the garlic cloves and then slice them as finely as you can.
- Heat a 28cm or 11" frying pan or skillet (not nonstick if possible) over a high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the cinnamon stick and cloves.
- Season the lamb with the salt and then fry until you get some nice crispy edges and a nice golden layer of crusty bits on the bottom of the pan. Then remove the lamb leaving the oil in the pan. You can also remove the cloves now and discard them, leaving the cinnamon stick in the pan.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring and scraping to remove most of the crispy bit in the pan.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute stirring constantly.
- Turn the heat up to high, pour in the red wine and reduce by half, scraping the pan to remove any remaining crispy bits.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the tinned tomatoes, black pepper, sugar, dried mint, and bay leaf and return the lamb to the pan, add a lid and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
- Transfer the lamb mix to a 25cm x 15cm (10" x 6") baking or casserole dish and wipe out the pan, you don't need to be too particular about cleaning the pan.
- Return the pan to a medium heat and when it is hot add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the orzo and toast it until it is golden.
- Transfer the orzo to the baking dish and pour over the lamb stock, have a taste now and add more salt if required.
- Give everything a stir, then transfer to an oven and cook at 180°C or 350°F for 40-45 minutes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1065Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 1223mgCarbohydrates: 125gFiber: 9gSugar: 16gProtein: 56g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.