Adriana's Symi Recipes

Greek recipes from the island of Symi.


This is by request. There are many different regional variations of this dish – indeed I recently saw a Cretan version made with pork and it is often made as a vegetarian dish with no meat whatsoever. Lamb works well as it has quite a strong flavour. This is absorbed by the pasta, making a small amount of meat go a lot further. It is quite a rich dish.

You can make Yiouvetsi either in a big pan or in small individual earthenware dishes as they do in Cyprus and Egypt. As the pasta should be tender but not soggy it is better to top up the liquid little and often during the cooking process. The seasonings are typical of Greek ‘kokkinista’ – ‘red’ dishes. You can remove the whole cloves and the cinnamon stick before serving.

If you want to prepare this ahead for a dinner party, cook it up to the point marked *. At this point you can safely cool it and then reheat it later, adding the extra liquid and bringing it up to temperature before adding the pasta. If you are watching your cholesterol, letting the meat cool at this stage also means you can skim some of the lamb fat off the sauce. This is also the point at which you can divide it into individual dishes.

1 leg of lamb, cut into 4-6 chunks
80 ml olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
250 ml tomato puree
250 ml chopped and peeled tomatoes (good quality tinned ones will do if the fresh ones are out of season)
3 cloves
1 piece of cinnamon bark
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 – 1.25 litres of boiling water or stock
500 ml orzo or kritharaki (rice-shaped pasta)
100 ml grated kefalotyri or parmesan cheese
125 ml diced feta cheese

Put the lamb in a roasting pan. Drizzle over the olive oil and bake in a moderate oven (about 180 degrees centigrade) for 20 minutes. Add the onion to the pan, stir into the pan juices and bake for another 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, cloves, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Add some of the measured liquid and stir until evenly combined. Spoon over the meat to baste. Cover the pan tightly with foil, shiny side in, and bake for about 45 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.*

Add the rest of the water and stock and stir into the tomato sauce. Add the pasta, distributing it evenly. Cover tightly and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and adding a little more hot liquid if it seems dry.
When the pasta is tender, sprinkle the cheese over the dish and return to the oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Serve immediately.

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