Orzo Pasta with Lamb and Dill

Rich meaty lamb paired with fresh dill gives this Mediterranean pasta a flavor profile exquisite enough for a dinner party yet comfort-foodie enough for a cozy Sunday evening at home. A hearty dish that satisfies on a cold winter night or after a hard day on the trail, especially when served with a crisp green salad and a full bodied red wine.

The preparation of this pasta dish starts with a homemade lamb stock. The meat and liquid are then used to prepare the orzo.

Based on the recipe Lamb with Orzo Pasta, Greek Style in The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines by Jeff Smith.

1 lamb shank plus 1 ½ lb boneless leg of lamb

Oil for browning meat and sautéing vegetables

For the lamb stock
½ cup dry white wine
1 onion cut into quarters
1 celery stalk cut into 3 inch sections

2 cups orzo pasta

1 ½ cup peeled and chopped yellow onion

1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes (preferably Muir Glen)

¼ cup chopped fresh dill or 2 t dried

½ cup chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 300°.

In a Dutch oven heat the oil over a high flame and brown the shank and the morsel of leg of lamb on both sides. Deglaze the pot with the white wine and add the quartered onion, celery stalk and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and place in the oven for an hour and half or until the lamb is fall off the bone tender.

Remove the celery and onion from the liquid and discard. Pull the lamb from the shank and shred along with the leg of lamb. Set liquid and meat aside.

Starting over in a clean Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high flame and add the orzo. Sauté for a minute or two and add the onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Return the shredded meat to the pot along with 4 cups of the stock and add the tomato, dill and parsley.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is tender, about 30 minutes. Add the lemon juice, season to taste and serve.