Long-time reader Aaron left this comment on my Pressure Cooker Greek Lamb Shanks recipe:
Have you ever tried Youvetsi? You braise the lamb shanks then throw in orzo near the end to soak up all the drippings. It’s really good.
Thanks, Aaron! This tip led me to youvetsi, the classic Greek lamb stew. Most of the recipes use cubed lamb shoulder instead of lamb shanks, so that’s where I went with this recipe.1 It’s my basic pressure cooker stew technique, so if you’ve made any of my stews, you’ll know the steps to the dance. The details are in the ingredients – lamb as the protein, with Greek flavors in the aromatics (onions, garlic, and tomatoes), and in the spices (oregano, allspice, and cinnamon).
And, of course, the orzo. Pressure cooked stews have thin sauces, because the sealed cooker doesn’t allow evaporation. The orzo takes care of that, soaking up some of the sauce, thickening the stew, and turning this into a great one-pot meal. Add a Greek salad and some pita bread, and you’ve got a fantastic Greek feast.
Recipe: Instant Pot Lamb YouvetsiPrint
Instant Pot Lamb Youvetsi. The classic Greek lamb stew, thickened with orzo pasta.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 cups homemade beef broth (or store-bought low sodium broth, or water)
- 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (if not using store-bought broth)
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup orzo (or other small pasta shape)
- Minced parsley for garnish
- Sear the lamb in three batches: Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat (Sauté mode set to medium in an Instant Pot) until the oil shimmers. While the pot heats, sprinkle the lamb cubes with 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1/3 of the lamb in a loose single layer and sear until well browned on one side, about 3 minutes. (Don’t crowd the pot or the lamb will steam, not brown). Transfer the browned lamb to a bowl, add half of the remaining lamb to the pot, and sear until browned on one side, about 3 more minutes. Transfer the browned lamb to the bowl. Add the rest of the lamb to the pot and sear until browned on one side, about 3 more minutes. Transfer the browned lamb to the bowl.
- Sauté the aromatics, toast the spices, deglaze the pan with wine: Add the onion and garlic to the pot, and sprinkle with the ½ teaspoon of salt, dried oregano, allspice, and cinnamon. Sauté until the onions soften, about 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally to loosen any browned bits of lamb. Pour the red wine into the pot, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 1 minute. Scrape the bottom of the pot again to release any browned bits stuck to the pot.
- Stir everything into the pot: Stir in the lamb and any juices in the bowl, then stir in the broth and diced tomatoes. Float the bay leaf on top of everything.
- Pressure cook the stew for 15 minutes with a quick pressure release: Lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes in an electric pressure cooker (“Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), or for 12 minutes in a stovetop PC. Quick release the pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to avoid the hot steam.
- Cook the orzo and serve: Leave the pot on “keep warm” mode. (Or put it over low heat for a stovetop PC). Remove the bay leaf and discard. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt (if you didn’t use store-bought broth, which is plenty salty), and the ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir in the orzo, then cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes to cook the orzo. Serve, sprinkling with a little parsley as garnish. Enjoy!
- Lamb shoulder chops are my “cubed lamb” shortcut. I cut them crosswise into rough 1-inch squares, discarding the bones and fat as I go.
- The orzo will continue to thicken the stew; if you can, let it sit in “keep warm” mode for an extra 15-20 minutes.
- Category: Sunday dinner
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Greek
Keywords: Instant Pot Lamb Youvetsi, Pressure Cooker Lamb Youvetsi, Instant Pot Greek Lamb Stew with Orzo
- 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker)
- Flat edged wooden spoon
What do you think?
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- Not that there’s anything wrong with lamb shank youvetsi – but that’s a recipe for another time. ↩