FRIDAY SUPPER - YOUVETSI
This simple, tasty and comforting slow-cooked lamb dish comes from Tessa Kiros's charming book 'Falling Cloudberries'. The title is enough to encourage you to open the book, while the subtitle - "a world of family recipes" - gives a clue to its contents. Inside is a collection of recipes from Tessa's family, the places where they lived and their travels - in Greece, Cyprus, South Africa, Italy, and Finland. Beautifully illustrated and containing delightful family anecdotes, this is a lovely collection of homely recipes.
I bought the book because a friend cooked Cypriot Baked Lamb with Cumin and Oregano, and it was so delicious, I figured the rest of the book must be worth having. Admittedly, I do not use it that often, but, like any cookbook which has become like a good friend to me, I do enjoy browsing its pages, and there are a couple of recipes which have become favourites which I cook regularly.
You can use a whole joint of meat instead of cubes if you prefer, but it does need to be cooked for a long time to ensure the meat is soft and succulent and falls easily from the bone. You can serve this dish with cubes of feta or haloumi cheese stirred in at the end so that they melt a little. This dish is a real one-pot meal, though I like to serve it with a peppery green salad and lots of fresh coriander.
3 tbsp olive oil
800g lamb meat (from shoulder or leg), cubed, or a half-shoulder joint, bone in, of equivalent weight.
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
600g tinned tomatoes, with juice, chopped
1 piece of Cassia bark or cinnamon stick
400g orzo or similar small pasta
Salt & pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan, Pecorino, or Kefalotiri cheese to serve
If using cubed lamb, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or Le Creuset-type casserole, and brown the meat in batches. If using a whole joint, put everything except the pasta in the casserole, and place in the preheated oven for 30 mins to brown off the top of the meat. Reduce the oven to around 150C, cover the casserole and cook for about 2 hours or until the meat falls easily from the bone. Check that the sauce does not dry out - you need some liquid to cook the pasta. About 15 mins before you want to serve the dish, add the pasta, cover the casserole again and cook until the pasta is done. Stir in the feta or haloumi, if using, at this point.
To serve, sprinkle with grated cheese, and fresh coriander (optional).