Kapama style Lamb Ragu with whole wheat orzo and rainbow chard and house hunting in Portland, Oregon.

April 28th 2014

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Over the weekend we went house hunting here in Portland. My husband and I have been wanting to get our own place here and feel like now is the time. Our family has been here for three years and my daughter will be going into the 2nd grade in the Fall and we want to hopefully have our own property and not be giving our hard earned dollars to rent. Currently we live in a great area, the Hollywood district, schools are good, it's safe, but it seems like we just don't quite "fit in here". We did ask our landlord about selling his house to us, but he was not too keen on the idea, and it's probably out of our price range anyway. Coming from Ogden, Utah which is relatively small and affordable, to here where prices have gone up 20% or so since we moved here, we got a bit sticker shocked. We have our sites set on St. John's up North, a up and coming neighborhood with a younger more diverse scene, great amenities, close to downtown, and with properties values predicted to go up 10% higher per year than any other area in Portland. We found a house in a good school district (not easy in the North), with Mid-mod architecture, and walking distance to good stores, cafes, and food carts in our budget! It is a "diamond in the rough" however, and renovations are a must (there is currently a motif of monster trucks driving over hills on the garage....yep that exists!) but we love it and its full of modern and eco friendly promise! The market here is nuts, our Realtor (a fashionable, NoPo resident, with incredible taste) warned us about bidding wars that go thousands above asking price and other hazards, somehow we may have avoided the worst of these as our little gem has been overlooked, with bad carpet covering pristine wood floors, and a generally odd bunch of decor most of which is from 1962 as the home has only had one owner....CHA-CHING! I will keep you updated as our real estate saga continues....
Now for a recipe, I love Greek Kapama Chicken, and the same sauce is traditionally used for lamb shanks. Kapama sauce is spiked with cinnamon and cloves and is utterly delicious! I found some Oregon lamb for a great price as it was the ground variety and made an incredible dish with it! Rainbow chard and Whole wheat orzo or "Manestra" as the Greeks call it held up and complemented the sauce to perfection! Healthy, delicious, and will leave your house smelling amazing, try this instead of your usual weeknight spaghetti, and you can thank me later!
You will need:
1 lb ground lamb
1 can san marzano tomatoes, crushed.
1 medium onion, small dice.
1 carrot, peeled, small dice.
1 rib celery, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced.
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 tsp fresh ground cinnamon (the stuff from 5 years ago you bought in bulk from Costco, is not suitable for this, throw it out, get a small amount of fresh, seriously worth it.)
1/2 tsp fresh ground cloves (read above, the stuff from Thanksgiving a decade ago should be vaporized never to be seen again!)
1 tsp ground pepper
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. Honey
1 lb whole wheat orzo
1 bunch fresh rainbow chard
1 tbsp. Butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup grated pecorino cheese, or hard grated cheese of choice; myzithra, parmesan, kasseri.
Start your pan pan of boiling water for your orzo and make sure you salt the water liberally (like the sea, as they say). In a large sauce pan heat olive oil over medium heat, when shimmering add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook 10 minutes. Add lamb, herbs, and spices, turn heat up to medium high and cook until lamb is browned well. Add tomatoes, honey, pepper and a pinch of salt. Turn down to medium low, simmer 20 minutes. While your sauce simmers, cook orzo as per preference, a few minutes before its done add chopped up chard (I cooked mine 3 or so minutes but if you like it mushier by all means go longer), drain and add butter. Serve sauce over orzo topped with cheese! Easy!