Youvetsi (yoo-VEH-tsee) is a traditional Greek stew that can be made with beef or lamb. The meat is cooked in a rich tomato sauce together with orzo pasta and finished with a heap of grated Kefalotyri cheese on top.
If you don't happen to have a covered ceramic baker, don't worry. The dish can also be made in a traditional Dutch oven.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Yield: 6 - 8 Servings
- 3 1/2 lbs. beef or lamb, cut into 2-inch chunks (see note)
- 1/2 cup olive oil (separated)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced finely
- 1 large leek (cleaned, trimmed and cut in half)
- 1 large carrot, cut into thirds
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 - 4 whole allspice berries
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 quart water
- 1 lb. orzo pasta
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Kefalotyri cheese or Pecorino Romano
Note: The best cuts of beef and lamb to use for this dish are the cheaper cuts like chuck or shoulder.
In a heavy, oven safe Dutch oven, heat ¼ cup olive oil. Season the meat lightly with salt and pepper and cook over medium high heat until nicely browned, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Remove the browned meat from the pot and set aside on a platter. Add the remaining ¼ cup olive oil. Saute the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add the leek, carrot, and the wine to the pot and scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom.
Add the allspice berries, crushed tomatoes, sugar, and a quart of water to the pot. Let it come to a boil and then lower the heat to medium low. Simmer uncovered for 5 – 10 minutes.
Return the meat to the pot (with juices) cover, and simmer over medium low heat for about an hour or until the meat is very tender.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the leek and carrot from the sauce and transfer the meat and sauce to a covered ceramic baker or continue using the Dutch oven.
Stir in the uncooked orzo pasta and add about 1/2 cup more water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and place in the oven. Cook an additional 45 minutes to an hour stirring the contents occasionally to prevent sticking.
Remove from the oven, remove the allspice berries and top with grated cheese. Cover and allow the dish to rest for 15 – 20 minutes before serving.