Potato, rice, pasta… Potato, rice, pasta. And yet there are so many other combinations for meat. It is not a modern tendency not to rely on starches every day. It is the wisdom in all the traditional kitchens that maximizes nourishment at the family table…
Giouvetsi is a traditional Sunday family dinner dish, typically made with stewed meat baked in a clay pot with orzo pasta. Though in modern years veal is the meat most commonly used, yearling lamb or goat were the traditional choice. The full sweet taste of yearling goat is almost legendary amongst gourmands who will travel to charming villages where it is still prepared in tiny local tavernas. Its flavor is incredible, as is its nutritional value. It needs careful handling in cooking, a little more patience, that is to say. It is also necessary to source a trustworthy producer who breeds grassfed pastured animals and offers them at all ages. The obsession with suckling meat is costing our pocket, the planet and the variety and enjoyment of our meals.
Many years ago, we found ourselves in Agios Georgios Nileas, a beautiful small village of Pelion. n the menu of the local taverna, I saw the name “Tragopoulo-young goat” for the first time. As genuine Athenians we asked what this is. I won’t forget how much trouble our polite waiter had to explain the term to us without telling us stupid. “Erm, so… It’s like a goat? only small” using hand gestures with the explanation to get through to us. It was a delicious dish and the quote remained as a private joke in out family.
We were introduced to “Provatina” (ewe’s meat) with pasta by my father, who used to take us to various tavernas around outer Attica for this special meze. We got well acquainted with the rest such as yearling lamb or goat e when due to some allergies we had to seriously review the quality and variety of our diet and the origin and production methods of the ingredients.
This recipe is adapted from that of Mr. Petretzis for beef stew here. It’s amazing.
- 2 tablespoons of clarified butter
- 3 large onions, sliced
- 2 leeks, sliced
- 1 kilo of yearling goat, in portions
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 150 ml red wine or 70 ml balsamic vinegar
- 500 gr. grated tomato
- 2 tbsps honey
- 1 liter of bone broth hot
- Salt and pepper
- 400 gr. orzo pasta
- 2 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
- Kefalotiri or feta cheese, for serving
- Parsley, finely chopped, for serving
- Grated lemon zest, for serving
Dry the meat with a paper towel. Heat a flameproof casserole on high heat, add the butter and brown the meat well, in batches if necessary. Set the meat aside while covered. Add the onions and leeks to the casserole and stir, about 5 minutes until they soften and color. Add the meat back with the cinnamon, laurel, cumin and tomato paste. Stir well for 1-2 minutes and add wine. When it has evaporated, add the tomato, the honey and 250 ml of the hot broth. Cover and let it simmer for 1 1/2 hour to 2 hours on a very low heat.
Preheat the oven to 180 C. When the meat is ready, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Add the orzo, 750 ml hot broth and the lemon thyme and stir. Cover the pot and bake in the oven for 20′ to 30′. Uncover and bake for a further 15 minutes.
When it’s ready, you leave to stand for 10 minutes. Serve with small bowls of kefalotiri, feta cheese and parsley with lemon zest to add to the plate.