Cook/ Weekend Feasting

Giouvetsi (Greek Lamb Stew with Orzo)

November 16, 2019

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This Greek lamb giouvetsi is the perfect comfort dish. An easy to make recipe with few ingredients, this traditional and authentic dish is slow cooked for a rich flavor. This orzo stew can be made with lamb, veal, beef or chicken. 

Giouvetsi with freshly grated cheese

I’m bringing you something a little different this week, but something I’m so excited about! I was asked to make a recipe from the new cookbook by Christos Sourligas. My Big Fat Greek Cookbook: Classic Mediterranean Soul Food Recipes.

When I got sent the proof, I couldn’t stop thumbing through the pages and reading about Christos’ journey to compile this book. I just had to bring you a recipe from it!

Christos’ Mum is an amazing. passionate home cook and this book is such an amazing journey through the traditional Greek meals that Christos grew up on. She taught him how to cook the dishes over the course of a year, and he has compiled them into this amazing book.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading it, it’s the perfect example of how food brings us all together. Be sure to scroll down past the recipe to find out a bit more about this soul warming book!

Front cover of My Big Fat Greek Cookbook

When choosing what dish to make, I just had to go with the giouvetsi recipe. It’s comfort food in it’s purest form, slow cooked and rich in flavor. Super easy too, with simple ingredients, and it feeds an army! It’s the perfect recipe for Slow The Cook Down!

What Is Giouvetsi?

Giouvetsi or Youvetsi is a traditional Greek dish that is baked in the oven. It consists of veal, lamb or beef which is cooked in a tomato broth with pasta, in this case orzo. The meat is slow cooked and tender and the pasta soaks up all of those amazing flavors. This is pure comfort food!

How to Make Giouvetsi

The veal (or lamb, or meat of choice) should be cut into 2 inch cubes with the bone in, your butcher can do this for you. Put the meat into a large stockpot and cover with water with salt and vinegar and boil for 10 minutes.

Remove the meat and in the same pan sauté the onions, add the veal cubes and cover the meat with boiling water (photo 1). Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes before adding the tomato juice and set aside (photo 2).

Place the dry orzo into a baking dish and cover with water, then place in a preheated oven until the water is boiling. Then add tomato juice, meat and broth and bake (photos 3 & 4).

Four process shots to show how to make the recipe

Notes and variations for this recipe

I used lamb shank for this recipe – it was delicious! If you can’t find lamb shank with the bone in, I have a suspicion that chunked stew lamb or beef would also work. If you use this, sear the chunks of meat rather than boiling them.

I would wager this dish would also work really well with some added veggies like bell peppers or mushrooms, just sauté them at the same time as the onion.

What do you serve with giouvetsi?

Christos advises that this dish should be served with a generous helping of freshly grated romano cheese, crusty bread and red wine. I really couldn’t agree more! Feel free to add some veggie goodness to your plate in the form of a simple side dish like Pak Choi or steamed green beans.

A sprinkle of fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice are both welcome additions when serving.

Greek comfort food

This traditional Greek dish is unashamedly homemade. It’s one of those recipes that you just know has been cooked for ever and handed down through the generations. I’m not that familiar with  Greek cuisine outside of the classic meze dishes, so it was a real treat to try a more rustic main meal. It is classic peasant food, made with simple ingredients; nourishing and hearty.

Giouvetsi in a large casserole and served into three portions

A Greek lamb stew recipe

Unlike American and British stews that we all know and love, this Greek stew has a lot less liquid in it as it is all absorbed by the orzo. When I first added the lamb and it’s broth to the orzo I did worry that it was going to be too soupy and liquidy, but keep faith! It’s important to let the dish sit as per the recipe below as this allows the orzo to thicken.

What do you cook giouvetsi in?

I cooked the meat in my trusty 5 quart Crock Pot dutch oven. Traditionally it is baked in a round clay baking dish, but I used my 13.5 x 9.5 inch glass casserole dish and that worked just fine. Use a casserole dish that is fairly deep as there is a lot of broth to add to the orzo.

Top Tips To Make This Traditional Giouvetsi Recipe

  • You can use chicken, veal, beef or lamb in this dish. If possible use bone in more more flavor, but if that’s not possible, you can skip the boiling meat stage and brown it in a pan instead.
  • When you first add the broth to the orzo, it will feel like too much. But keep faith, it all gets absorbed wonderfully.
  • Let the baked dish sit for a few minutes before serving.
  • The leftovers are amazing! Keep covered in the fridge and just gently reheat in the oven before serving.
  • This is a slow cook, don’t rush! Enjoy the process with a glass of wine!

The cooked lamb and orzo on a fork

For more amazing comfort food recipes:

Be sure to read below the recipe for more details on the fabulous My Big Fat Greek Cookbook!

I love hearing from you!! If you have tried this yummy giouvetsi recipe, be sure to scroll down, give it a star rating and let me know what you thought!

For more tasty treats, food inspiration and fun, be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Pinterest – come say hi!

The lamb and orzo stew in a white bowl garnished with fresh herbs

Giouvetsi (Greek Lamb Stew with Orzo)

This Greek lamb giouvetsi is the perfect comfort dish. An easy to make recipe with few ingredients, this traditional and authentic dish is slow cooked for a rich flavor. This orzo stew can be made with lamb, veal, beef or chicken. 
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 627kcal

Ingredients

For the meat:

  • 3.3 pounds front shank veal (or chicken, beef or lamb) (1.5 kilograms)
  • salt pinch
  • white vinegar a sprinkle
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the pasta:

  • 2 cups kritharaki (orzo pasta) or hilopites or spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice
  • freshly grated Romano cheese

Instructions

  • Cut the veal into 2-inch cubes; do not debone. In a large stockpot, pour in sufficient water to cover the meat. Toss in 2 to 3 dashes of salt, and drizzle in a touch of vinegar. Boil for 10 minutes. Skim the froth with a slotted spoon, then remove the meat and place into a bowl. Rinse the pot.
  • Pour the olive and vegetable oils into the stockpot.
  • Chop the onions into 1⁄2-inch cubes, toss in, and sauté over medium-high heat.
  • Add the veal cubes, and cover the meat with hot water from a boiling kettle. Partially cover the pot, and stir. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to medium- high heat. Feed the pot with boiling water, if needed.
  • Continue cooking for 45 minutes, then mix in the tomato juice, salt, and pepper.
  • Stir, partially cover the pot, and cook for another 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 395°F (200°C).
  • Add the kritharaki (orzo) to a large baking dish (ideally, a round clay baking dish), spreading the pasta around with your fingers.
  • Mix in 4 cups of hot water from a boiling kettle, and bake. Stir occasionally, making sure the kritharaki doesn’t stick to the dish, while allowing the pasta and water to reach a boil (about 15 minutes).
  • Then, mix in the tomato juice, and combine the veal and its broth. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, and let the giouvetsi stand in the oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until the pasta thickens.
  • Remove from oven. Let cool, then top with grated Romano cheese. Serve with bread and red wine.

Notes

This recipe has been republished with kind permission from Skyhorse Publishing and Christos Sourligas.
This recipe is from My Big Fat Greek Cookbook: Mediterranean Soul Food Recipes.
  • You can use chicken, veal, beef or lamb in this dish. If possible use bone in more more flavor, but if that's not possible, you can skip the boiling meat stage and brown it in a pan instead.
  • When you first add the broth to the orzo, it will feel like too much. But keep faith, it all gets absorbed wonderfully.
  • Let the baked dish sit for a few minutes before serving.
  • The leftovers are amazing! Keep covered in the fridge and just gently reheat in the oven before serving.
  • This is a slow cook, don't rush! Enjoy the process with a glass of wine!
Nutritional values are based on one of six servings and are an estimate only.

Nutrition

Calories: 627kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 56g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 205mg | Sodium: 799mg | Potassium: 1044mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 182IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Pin it today!Mention @SlowTheCookDown or tag #SlowTheCookDown!

My Big Fat Greek Cookbook by Christos Sourligas

My Big Fat Greek Cookbook is a comprehensive overview of Greek food, recipes and family culture as documented by the son of a Greek immigrant as his mother, Evdokia Antginas, neared the end of her life.

“Christos is a kind, intelligent, generous person so it comes as no surprise that he has honoured his Mama by creating a legacy that will inspire generations to come. He spent a year with his mother, patiently watching and documenting how the magic was created.” Kathleen Hutchison

“A lot of my favorite dishes are in this book. And for anyone who has never enjoyed the Greek food experienced before, this is a must- have! It will appeal to every taste bud. And as I browse through it, I can’t help but smile at all the memories and holidays each recipe represents for me and for the millions of other fellow members of the Greek community as we were growing up.” Angelo Tsarouchas

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