Greek Lamb with Orzo

Greek lamb and Orzo
I love this dish, it takes a while to cook but doesn’t take that much time to prepare (if your lamb is already cubed). The slow cooking means cheaper cuts of meat can be used. The cinnamon with the lamb makes it distinctly Greek in flavour and it is more of a Greek home cooked meal than anything you will find in a Greek restaurant. I first came across orzo 20 years ago when a Greek friend Maria cooked dinner for us. It is small pieces of oval pasta almost shaped like large grains of rice and it works particularly well in casseroles like this. These days it is available in most large supermarkets in the UK.
Quantities serve 6 generous portions
Ingredients
  • 1kg diced lamb
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped oregano, or 1 tsp dried
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks , broken in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1.2l hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400g orzo
  • freshly grated parmesan, to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Cut the lamb into chunks, then spread over the base of a large, wide casserole dish. Slice onions then add them together with oregano, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon and olive oil, then stir well.
  2. Bake, uncovered, for 45 mins, stirring halfway.
  3. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and stock, cover tightly, then return to the oven for 1½ hrs, until the lamb is very tender. (Dish can be frozen at this point, resume from next step after defrosting).
  4. Remove the cinnamon sticks, then stir in the orzo. Cover again, then cook for a further 20 mins, stirring halfway through. The orzo should be cooked and the sauce thickened.
  5. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

Greek Pastitsio

Pastitsio plated

I had a pack of minced beef to turn into dinner and couldn’t face spaghetti bolognese. This recipe is a combination of several from the internet. Most were for vast quantities so I reduced down and modified to merge 2 or 3 slightly different approaches. This was more effort than bolognese sauce but not that much and made a very pleasant change. I served with greek salad which is a firm favourite with my teen boys.

Ingredients

  • 450g minced beef
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 400g tinned tomatoes
  • Ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or a few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 300g macaroni
  • 100g grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 20g butter
  • 20g flour
  • 500ml cream

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven 180 degrees C
  2. Brown mince in sauteing pan
  3. Add chopping onions and fry until translucent
  4. Add minced garlic and fry another 2 minutes
  5. Add tomatoes and red wine
  6. Grate pepper, chilli, allspice and cinnamon into meat mixture and add thyme and cook for 5-10 minutes until not too wet
    Pastitsio meat sauce
  7. In meantime cook macaroni
  8. Mix cooked macaroni with 2 eggs and layer half on base of casserole. (I used a Le Creuset 23 cm Cast Iron Oval Casserole), then sprinkle on 1/3 of the grated parmesan.
  9. Carefully pour on the meat sauce.
  10. Layer rest of macaroni on top of meat sauce then top with with 1/3 grated parmesan
  11. Melt butter, add flour then whisk in cream and 2 eggs
  12. Layer white sauce on top and sprinkle final 1/3 parmesan
    Pastitsio uncooked
  13. Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes until top browned
    Pastitsio out of oven
  14. Serves 5-6
    Pastitsio in casserole

Greek lamb with Orzo – BBC Good Food

Greek lamb with orzo

This is one of those deceptively simple dishes that is delicious. The lamb is cooked until it is meltingly tender and the stock, tomatoes and lamb fat combine to make a rich sauce. You can adjust quantity of Orzo and Lamb up and down depending on budget. It is not time critical and the middle stage could be longer. It’s a good dish to make up to the end of stage 2 then leave on a low heat until people are nearly ready for dinner then turn up the heat and add the orzo. This dish is popular with the whole family.

I got the butcher to bone and cube the lamb. Getting him to bone the shoulder was a good idea but I should have trimmed and cubed it myself it would have been quicker than trimming the pieces. Quantities below serve 6.

Recipe can be found @ http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5846/greek-lamb-with-orzo

Orzo is a small pasta shaped like a large grain of rice or barley. The name Orzo is Italian for little barley and you’ll find packs of Orzo in the pasta section of any decent supermarket. The Greek name for that type of pasta is manéstra although the term manéstra is usually used for the dish made with the Orzo.

Ingredients

  • 1kg shoulder of lamb
  • 2 onions sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped oregano, or 1 tsp dried
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks , broken in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1.2l hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400g orzo
  • freshly grated parmesan, to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Cut the lamb into 4cm chunks, then spread over the base of a large, wide casserole dish. Add the onions, oregano, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon and olive oil, then stir well. Bake, uncovered, for 45 mins, stirring halfway.
  2. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and stock, cover tightly, then return to the oven for 1½ hrs, until the lamb is very tender.
  3. Remove the cinnamon sticks (if you can find them – I couldn’t), then stir in the orzo. Cover again, then cook for a further 20 mins, stirring halfway through. The orzo should be cooked and the sauce thickened. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve with a greek salad and crusty bread.

Greek salad

I don’t need to look up a recipe to make a Greek salad but I thought it would be useful to post one up so I can direct my boys to it when I want them to make up a Greek salad for dinner.

These quantities make enough for 6 people (or 4 with leftovers for lunch the next day) and it takes about 10 minutes to make. We had this salad together with with a piece of pitta and humus each and some grilled halloumi cheese for dinner tonight.

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • 8 medium tomatoes
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 200g feta cheese
  • handful pitted black olives
  • 3 generous slugs of olive oil

Instructions

  1. Slice or chunk cucumber and put in large salad bowl
  2. cut tomatoes in half, cut out the core then cut each half into 3 pieces and put into salad bowl with cucumber
  3. Peel red onions, cut in half then cut each half into thin slices and put into salad bowl
  4. Put three good slugs of olive oil over salad and toss
  5. Cut up feta cheese into cubes and put on top
  6. Cut or tear olives in half and put on top
  7. Toss salad gently to mix a bit more
  8. Serve