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This is a traditional 'Sunday Lunch' dish. The orzo (a kind of pasta that is shaped like large grains of rice) cooks in the liquid released by the lamb and tomato and becomes very tasty. Many make it with a cut of beef suitable for roasting, cut into large pieces, or even with chicken pieces.
- 5 -6 lbs leg of lamb (the weight is approximate)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup red wine
- 1⁄2 cup olive oil
- 2 cups water
- 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and pureed
- 1 large onion, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1⁄4-1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon (depending on preference)
- 1 lb orzo pasta
- freshly-grated parmesan cheese or kefalotiri
- Preaheat oven to 375F (190C).
- Wash and pat dry the leg of lamb. In a large baking pan (if you have an earthenware casserole - even better!), rub lamb with the lemon juice and olive oil over. Season generously with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme. Pour in wine, water, tomato puree, minced onion, garlic and cinnamon around meat. Give the sauce a stir and roast, turning meat over occasionally when you see a crust forming (to brown all sides) for 2 to 3 hours (note: Greeks like their lamb well-done, if you prefer a shorter cooking time, cook to your personal preference).
- In a large saucepan, bring plenty of water to the boil, salt generously and boil the orzo pasta for 8 minutes. Remove and drain - retain a cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the lamb casserole and give everything a stir to distribute orzo throughout the pan.
- Increase heat to 400F (200C) and continue to bake another 15-20 minutes, or until pasta is fully cooked and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan (it should still be fairly 'juicy' - not dry). If the pasta is too dry, stir in enough of the pasta cooking water you've retained to keep it saucy.
- Have lots of freshly-grated parmesan or kefalotiri cheese to sprinkle over pasta at table.