A Greek recipe from Diana Henry. She recommends making the stew a couple of days in advance to allow the flavour to develop, then adding and cooking the pasta just before you eat it.
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large casserole and brown the lamb in batches. You want to get a good colour all over. When each batch has browned remove it with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
Add the rest of the oil to the casserole and sauté the onions – seasoning them with salt – until they’re soft and translucent. Stir in the celery, carrots, garlic, oregano and thyme. Grate over some nutmeg, add the tomato purée and stir everything around.
Pour on the wine, bring to the boil so it starts to bubble and reduce a little, then add the tomatoes and bay leaves. Put the lamb back in the casserole, together with any juices. Season and add the lamb stock or water.
Bring to just under the boil, then turn the heat down low, cover the pan and cook, on the lowest heat, for 2 hours. Stir it every so often and add water if you need to. At the end of the cooking time, let the lamb cool, and put it in the fridge.
Before you want to serve, bring the meat out of the fridge for an hour. Heat the casserole until it’s bubbling and stir in the orzo. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the pasta, add some water,
Cook the dish for 20 minutes. By this time the orzo should be tender and will have absorbed the flavours. The dish should be quite thick, not too soupy. Serve in pasta bowls and scatter some cheese on the top, with more on the side.