Lamb casserole

Lamb casserole

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Gouvetsi kritharaki

This popular winter dish in Greece takes its name from the youvetsi or gouvetsi, or earthenware casserole, in which it is traditionally cooked. In many taverns today, youvetsi is prepared in individual little earthenware casseroles and served directly from the oven to the table in them. As a substitute for the type of pasta called kritharákia, you can use any grain-shaped Italian pasta

2 lb. (1 kg) lamb, from fillet or leg, or thick lamb steaks,
cut into medium-sized chunks
1 medium tin (13 fl oz/400 ml) peeled tomatoes with their juice, de-seeded
4 tbs. olive oil, salt, pepper
50 fl oz (1 1/2 litres) hot meat stock (should be freshly made)
or hot water
2 oz (60 g) coarsely grated or flaked cheese 1 lb. (500 g) kritharakia

Set your oven at 180C, 350F or gas mark 4. Season the meat and put it into a round ovenproof earthenware casserole with a lid, or divide it up between small individual ones. Pour over the olive oil and turn the meat in it. Roast until the meat is beginning to brown, then add the tomatoes, which you have first pureed in a food processor and half the stock or water. Cover and bake (still at 180C, 350F gas mark 4) until the meat is very tender then add the rest of the stock or water (boiling, otherwise your casserole will crack!) and the kritharakia,stir well, cover and return to the oven to continue baking until the kritharákia are tender and the liquid has been absorbed – check after 15 minutes.
Serve in the casserole with cheese sprinkled over the kritharákia. Serves 4-6

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