There are certain Greek meals that have a reputation for bringing back memories, youvetsi is one of them. And although I was not raised Greek, this is one of those meals that takes my husband back to his childhood just by smelling it. Especially when made in the crock pot, the aromas of lamb, tomato, and cinnamon fill the house with a comforting warmth that brings a permanent smile to his face.
The first picture is from a time I made youvetsi in Greece using a dutch oven, it turned out good, but this time using a slow cooker it was incredible.
We just got a crock pot and I don’t know how I have lived without one for this long. Especially now that we are both working the American dream of 8-5pm (hahaha), we have very limited time to cook. But with the convenience of a slow cooker, I can either cook a good, healthy, homemade meal while we are sleeping or start it when we leave to be ready when we return home.
And the best part is that since it cooks on low for 8 hours, the lamb literally falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. The hints of cinnamon compliment the tomato sauce with the tender orzo pasta giving it a taste of a meal that you slaved over for hours.
Lamb Yiouvetsi Recipe:1 – 2 lbs. lamb, I used 2 lamb steaks
3-4 T. olive oil
1 medium – large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 can chopped/diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups broth (vegetable or beef) … double the liquid if using a dutch oven! 1/2 cup red wine 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 cinnamon stick 1 bay leaf
8 oz orzo pasta
ground pepper and salt
kefalotyri or myzithra or good romano
Generously season your meat with oil and salt/pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium high, or an indoor grill if you have one and you will be using your crock pot. If you will be using your dutch oven, you can simply heat on the stove while you preheat your oven. You want to saute your onion until translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add your minced garlic and tomato paste until aromatic, and at this point you want to sear your lamb to lock in the juices. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side and then remove from the pan, now it is time to deglaze your pan for ultimate flavor.
Increase the heat to high in your skillet, and measure out your red wine. Lightly lift the skillet in your non dominant hand and add the wine with the other. Return to the heat for a minute or so as it will begin to boil very quickly. With a rubber spatula or wood spoon, scrape the sides of the pan to get all the good stuff that might be trying to hang on.
From here, you will either add everything to the crock pot, except the orzo; or you will return everything (except the orzo) to your dutch oven and add to a preheated oven of 300 – 325°.
For a crock pot, cook for 3-4 on high, 7-8 hours on low; for a dutch oven, cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. With either method, you are going to want and add the orzo about 30-35 minutes prior to the finished cooking time. Increasing the heat in the oven to 350, and stirring, adding more liquid if necessary or leaving uncovered if you think there is too much liquid.
Serve pieces of the lamb on a bed of orzo and top generously with grated myzithra or romano cheese.