Youvetsi is a delicious Greek stew made with beef or lamb and orzo cooked in a tasty tomato-based sauce. It’s flavorful, comforting and easy to make too.
There are a few people taking part in today’s Sunday Supper who will be getting all excited about a certain movie coming out soon which has given today’s theme (Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, if you’re wondering). As someone who rarely manages to see movies these days unless I am on a flight (and so it’s then restricted by how good the range of in-flight options are and how needy the kids are being), it’s probably not surprising I am not likely to be one of the first ones to see it.
In fairness I have never been a huge movie-buff, but I’ll happily take any excuse to get excited about the Greek food it’s inspiring everyone to make.
For me it was a nice way to remember some of the tasty food we had in Athens last year (and Cyprus, which shares many similar dishes), before deciding to make this delicious youvetsi, a Greek beef or lamb stew with orzo.
In all honesty I can’t really remember whether we had youvetsi or not on our trip as we had a few meals where we had a number of smaller dishes and I can’t remember every single one – it’s very common to have food in a mezze style with a range of small plates.
Sometimes this is just cold dips like tzatziki, baba ghanoush and hummus to start, but a number of places continue this in to the warm, often meaty, dishes as well. We also had some meals we didn’t order from a menu so I didn’t get to see everything listed which is often what helps me remember what we had.
On top of that we were traveling with a toddler and a six-week old which while it largely worked out OK naturally had its challenges at times. I am sure sleep deprivation does things to your memory as well. Not to mention the fact that the amazing sites of Athens we were trying to see in a couple days can be distracting!
Anyway, whether we had youvetsi or not, it was something I was happy to find an excuse to make. Having already shared a favorite Greek dish, moussaka, I considered other dishes that were a bit better known or quicker. But then thought a slow-cooked meaty stew seemed perfect both for the Greek wedding theme and Easter.
While it takes a little time to cook, youvetsi is really easy – it’s pretty hands-off cooking. And so worth the wait.
How to make youvetsi
This may take a little time to cook but it’s hands off cooking. All you need to do is:
- brown the meat;
- soften the onion and garlic;
- deglaze the pan with wine (basically get all the good stuff stuck to the bottom);
- add tomatoes, stock and a couple seasonings;
- leave it to cook the meat to tenderness;
- add orzo towards end to cook in the sauce.
You can do all but the last step in advance then just reheat and add the orzo, letting it cook in the delicious sauce. Serve with a decent amount of freshly grated cheese (traditionally it would be kefalotyri but parmesan or pecorino work as an alternative).
This was a meal we all immediately loved, my toddler son even asked for more which is always a good sign. It’s got that warm, comforting feel but is not overly heavy.
The orzo takes on the delicious flavor of the sauce, a lovely mix of meatiness and tomato as well as just enough cinnamon to lift it up with a slightly warm fragrance.
Whether this description does it justice I don’t know, but believe me this is a truly delicious dish and has that flexibility of being made with either beef or lamb depending on your preference or what you have available.
Youvetsi is definitely one that we’ll be adding to our regular rotation – give it a try and you may well have a new favorite, as we did.
A wonderfully comforting combination of orzo and slow cooked meat in a tomato-based sauce.
- 2 lb beef or lamb stew meat 900g, beef chuck or lamb shoulder probably best
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil or a little more as needed
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup red wine 120ml
- 14 oz chopped tomatoes 400g, 1 can
- 2 tsp tomato paste puree
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 cups stock
- 1 1/2 cups orzo 265g
- 1/2 cup kefalotyri approx, or or parmesan/pecorino
If the meat is not already diced, or the pieces are large, cut it in to roughly bite-sized pieces and season with some salt and pepper. Peel and dice the onion and finely chop the garlic.
Warm half the oil in a Dutch oven and brown the meat on all sides to sear it, working in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan and removing to a plate as they are done.
In the same pan, add the rest of the oil and soften the onions, adding the garlic after a minute. Cook until going translucent but not brown, around 3-5 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the wine - allow the alcohol to boil off and scrape the bottom to incorporate all the flavor into the sauce.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and stock and add back the meat. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer then cook on low for around 1 hour or until tender, covered.
Preheat oven to 350F/175C, add the orzo to the pan, mix through then bake for approx 25 minutes, uncovered, until orzo is tender and cooked.
Serve with grated cheese on top.
I use my Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Oval French Oven to make this dish which works perfectly.
Try these other classic Greek dishes:
See all the other recipes to celebrate My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 –
- Greek-Style Sliders with Feta Aioli by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Mushroom, Kalamata Olive and Feta Stuffed Phyllo with Whipped Feta Dip by Pook’s Pantry
- Rosemary and Olive Grissini by What Smells So Good?
- Socca Pizza with Spinach, Roasted Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, and Feta by The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Spanakopita Bites by My Imperfect Kitchen
- Tiropitas (Greek Cheese Triangles ) by Moore or Less Cooking
- Tyropita Appetizer Bites by The Freshman Cook
- Avgolemono Chicken Zoodle Soup by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Quick and Easy Greek Avgolemono Soup by Confessions of a Cooking Diva
- Shrimp Avgolemono with Spinach by Monica’s Table
- Vegetarian Magiritsa (Greek Easter Soup) by Palatable Pastime
- Baklava French Toast with Cinnamon Honey Syrup by A Mind Full Mom
Greek Main Dishes:
- Brizola (Greek-style Pork Chops) by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Chicken Greek Salad Flatbread by Family Foodie
- Greek Chirashi Sushi by NinjaBaker
- Greek Meatball Salad by Magnolia Days
- Gyro Meatballs with Lemon Rice by Casa de Crews
- Kotopita (Greek Chicken Pie) by Curious Cuisiniere
- Mediterranean Meatball Gyros Sandwich by Life Tastes Good
- Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Roasted Vegetables by Food Lust People Love
- Souvlaki Chicken Wraps with Homemade Tzatziki by The Crumby Cupcake
- Youvetsi (Greek beef or lamb and orzo stew) by Caroline’s Cooking (you’re here!)
Greek Side Dishes:
- Greek-style rice salad by Pine Needles In My Salad
- Greek Zucchini Fritters by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Homemade Tzatziki Sauce by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Spanakorizo by Feeding Big and More
- Chocolate Baklava by The Chef Next Door
- Greek Lemon Cake by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Greek Spice Cake by Our Good Life
- Greek Walnut Cake by Pies and Plots
- Greek Wedding Cookies – Kourabiethes/Kourabiedes by La Bella Vita Cucina
- Loukoumades – Greek Donuts by The TipToe Fairy
- Loukoumades (Greek honey fritters) by The Redhead Baker
- Ouzito: The Greek Mojito by Hardly A Goddess
Plus Baked Shrimp with Feta plus More Greek Cuisine from Sunday Supper Movement
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