Arni Youvetsi/Giouvetsi aka Lamb Baked with Orzo and Tomatoes aka My Favorite Dinner

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I’ve mentioned before that, despite being a lover of food and an, erm, taster of all things, I can boil my favorite dinners down to two things: lahanodolmades and this dish, arni giouvetsi (you-vet-see). Neither of them are particularly fancy or complicated.  They aren’t terribly exotic or packed with unique ingredients.  But they are good. Really good. And part of the reason I love them so much, no doubt, is because of all the nostalgia and comfort that is associated with both dishes.  I ate both quite frequently growing up and, even to this day, when I travel to Michigan to see family, somebody makes one of these two dishes for me because it’s well known how much I love them.  Some things never change. (I won’t get into the time when my grandma sent up a batch of lahanodolmades with my dad and stepmom who, after getting stuck in traffic, finally made it to my place with a casserole dish of some really funky smelling stuffed cabbage.)

Giovetsi is basically a dish made with meat and orzo, cooked together in the oven. Arni means lamb, so you can have different forms of giouvetsi, like chicken and beef.  But as I mentioned in that other post, I don’t make arni giouvetsi very often. I make variations of this dish (with chicken, with beef stew meat, etc.) more often because of the whole only-two-people-living-here-thing.  And I typically do it on the stove top (which actually negates the whole “giouvetsi” thing).  This dish is often made with a shoulder or leg of lamb, which I probably don’t have to tell you are quite large.  Perfectly enough, though, the people at Lava Lake Lamb (who also sent me the ground lamb I used to make my spiced meatballs), sent me a piece of top round lamb and right away, I knew I had to make this dish.  Now, it’s true that top round is quite a bit more tender (and cooks for less time) than the pieces usually used in this long-cooking dish, but I just had to make it.  And it turned out great! Comfort on a plate!

Arni Youvetsi/Giouvetsi aka Lamb Baked with Orzo and Tomatoes aka My Favorite Dinner

  • This is my favourite too Elly! It’s so comforting and hearty in the winter time. Thank you for sharing!

  • Comfort food means many different things to each of us, but I would find comfort in this dish with a side of spanakopita:D

  • My yiayia always made this for us when there was something special happening. She babysat for us three nights a week, so if she knew one of us had straight A’s or made the school play ro something, she would make this b/c we LOVED it!
    I asked her for the recipe once and I think it was one of those things that i needed to watch her make it and record it b/c she told me what she remembered in her head and it came out wrong. I’m def copying this recipe down to see if this is like I remember!!!

  • This looks so beautiful and tasty!

  • Niiiiiiice !!!
    One of my favourite dishes!

  • I can see why this is one of your favorites. It looks especially delicious in the first photo. I was thinking it would be delicious with some crumbled feta instead of the romano.

  • Definitely one of my favorites too Elly! So comforting and perfect for the season.

  • themilkmanswife

    Mmm. This looks so warm and comforting. YUM!

  • I can consider this as my comfort food. I always love eating this dish even when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing.

  • I tried a chicken youvetsi/giouvetsi a while ago that I really liked. I will have to try this lamb version!

  • I just saved this recipe and can’t wait to make it! The lamb looks so tender and delicious and I love orzo – yum!

  • One of my faves too, hands down. One note, this dish does work better with Greek kritharaki (orzo). Brands like Misko, Melissa or Vlaxa.

  • Megan

    This was always my dad’s favorite…I fondly remember him sitting at the table on a Sunday afternoon chewing on a big old lamb shank like a caveman 🙂 I only liked the orzo as a kid.

  • Where has your blog been all my life? Delicious.

  • Jennifer

    Had this years ago at a great Greek restaurant in Atlanta; tried it about a year ago ( made my own version) but added carrots…fresh whole baby carrots. Made it again this evening using shoulder and blade chops and everyone loved it (even my mom who DOES NOT eat lamb!) brilliant and simple recipe…my only edits were the addition of the carrots, som herbs de Provence and bay, a good lug of red wine and a good defatting after braising. Thanks Elly! This polish girl loves it!

  • kiki

    I have made this for years and have done it in an easier way.

    1. Half cook the orzo in chicken broth.
    2. strain orzo, put orzo in a casserole dish and save 1 cup of that broth.
    3. add tomato paste, 1 can of chopped tomato and garlic to the saved broth stir over heat to incorporate and then pour this mixture over orzo.
    4. place uncooked shoulder chops on top of orzo and put a pad of butter on each chop and salt and pepper.
    5. bake chops over orzo at 300 for 30-45 mins. until chops are done and orzo is tender.
    6. serve with a dollop of plain yogurt.

    very easy to make and to cleanup. almost a one dish meal. 😉

  • Leslie

    Thank you for this recipe – it is amazing. My husband and I made this last night for dinner after finding the recipe on Gojee, and we loved it. It really is pretty simple and doesn’t take that many ingredients – we made it on a Sunday afternoon and we let the lamb braise for about 3 hours. I really like the addition of orzo at the end, because it soaks up all the wonderful flavor in the braising liquid. We will definitely be making this again soon!

    • elly

      So happy to hear you enjoyed it, Leslie!

  • Jasmine

    I love this dish! I added some peeled and chopped red delight potatoes and it was delicious!

  • mary beth grant

    Hi – Can’t wait to make this tonight, the recipe calls for broth or water, assuming chicken broth? Please advise.

    Thank you and I cant wait for dinner!

    • elly

      You can use any kind you want, really! I typically use chicken broth but have used a combo of chicken & beef before too. Hope you enjoy!

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