Youvetsi (Greek)

greek_plate

Cooked for the Greek entry of the World Cup and Plate challenge. Youvetsi is a lamb and tomato baked dish with rice-shaped pasta.

Youvetsi recipe

1/4 cup Olive oil
500g lamb meat, chunks
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tin of diced tomatoes with juice
1 stick of cinnamon
30g of butter
200g risoni or orzo

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the lamb in batches until golden on all sides, then transfer the meat to a plate.
  3. Saute the onions until golden and softened. Add the garlic and cook for another half a minute, then return the meat to the pan.
  4. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and add the cinnamon and the butter. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Trasfer the mixture to a casserole dish and add 4 cups of hot water.
  6. Cover and bake for an hour or until the lamb is tender.
  7. Rinse the pasta in a fine sieve, drain and add to the casserole dish. Mix through, cover and return it to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and has absorbed most of the sauce.
  8. You may need to adjust the pasta cooking time and add more water if needed.
  9. Serve hot. You may like to sprinkle grated parmesan, pecorino, feta or haloumi over the top.

Serves 2-4.

VARIATION: I’m planning on trying this one with rice, but you’d need to add it about 45 minutes in so that it cooks through. If you use rice it’ll will be gluten-free. Leave off the cheese on the top to make it dairy-free.

Best recipe: Tagliatelle with ragu (spaghetti bolognese)

Spaghetti bolognese is a favourite dinner time meal loved throughout the world. It can be a simple as browning the mince and adding some bottled sauce, but just once try this traditional version. Trust me, it’s the best.

Italy’s most loved but misinterpreted dish has to be tagliatelle al ragu. When it left Italy’s shores it somehow become spaghetti bolognese. The real bolognese dish is made by tossing a little rich, slow-cooked ragu (a meat sauce, usually veal and pork) through fresh egg noodles.

There’s a number of tricks to an outstanding ragu sauce. First you really need to let it simmer for a good 3 hours to allow all the flavours to meld together and fill your house with divine smells. A dash of milk  is added to the ragu sauce to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and wine. It’s worth using good quality mince, wine and stock.

60g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped or grated
90g pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
220g minced ground veal or beef
220g minced ground pork
2 sprigs of oregano, chopped or 1/4 tsp dried oregano
pinch of nutmeg
½ cup dry white wine
3/4 cup milk, or soy milk
400g tin chopped tomatoes or fresh
250ml beef stock
400g tagliatelle
grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion, celery, carrot and pancetta. Cook over a moderate heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  2. Add the minced beef, pork and oregano to the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mince has browned slightly.
  3. Pour in the wine, increase the heat and boil over high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the wine has been absorbed. Stir in the milk and reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomato and half the stock, partially cover the pan and leave to simmer gently over very low heat for 3 hours. Add more of the stock as it is needed to keep the sauce moist.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the tageliatelle, toss with the sauce and serve with grated Parmesan.

Serves 4.

Variation: These aren’t traditional variations, but if you’d like the meal to go further add a can of beans. You could also add any extra vegetables (grated) that you might have in the fridge or the garden.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge.