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Friday 4 December 2009

One pot wonder: Aromatic lamb with orzo

Recently I was lucky enough to receive a package of goodies from Merchant Gourmet. Among them was a pack of Orzo, an ingredient I'd never come across before. It is, essentially, a rice-shaped pasta, but it's more common in Greek cuisine (where it's known as manéstra or kritharáki) than Italian. With that in mind, I chose to cook it with that great Greek staple, lamb. This dish owes a hell of a lot to Mary Cadogan's recipe, but I made a fair few adjustments and additions along the way to spice it up a bit. It'll will serve up to four people, depending how greedy you are!

You will need:
  • 800g diced lamb (stewing cuts are fine)
  • 2 medium onions (sliced into fairly large pieces)
  • 2tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tin or carton chopped tomatoes (approx 350 - 400g)
  • 1 litre chicken stock (I use organic stock cubes but fresh is even better)
  • A splash of red wine
  • 300g orzo (you could substitute arborio or paella rice if need be)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Make it!
  • Heat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4. Put the lamb and onions into a big casserole dish, season well and pour over a couple of glugs of oil. Add the dried spices and cinnamon sticks, and stir up. Bake in the oven (uncovered) for about 45 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
  • Remove the lamb from the oven. Make up the stock, and pour it over the lamb and spices. Add the tomatoes and the red wine, and stir well so it's mixed. Return to the oven and cook until the lamb is tender and falling apart - this can take up to an hour and a half.
  • When the lamb seems cooked, remove the cinnamon sticks. Then pour in the orzo and stir well. Return to the oven and cook for another 15 - 20 minutes. Check it a few times and give it a good stir - the sauce will thicken and the orzo will cook quickly. When it looks like the picture above, it's done.
  • Serve it up in bowls with pitta bread. This is great for a Sunday evening Winter treat, but remember it can take a good 3 hours to prepare and cook!
tip: To give the dish a more Moroccan feel, ditch the wine, add half a tsp of crushed fenugreek seeds and a little paprika and chuck in a few chopped dried apricots.


  1. This sounds so, so good - definitely worth setting aside a few hours for!

  2. I forgot to say, the benefit of the long cooking time and all that cinnamon is that the house smells AMAZING while it's cooking!

  3. Note to self: When Gemma invites you over for yummy sounding lamb dinner, don't say no next time...


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