Garlicky lamb and rice baked under a thick, tart veil of yogurt is a dish beloved throughout Albania. This recipe first appeared in our November 2013 issue with Francine Prose's story Eastern Promise.
Albanian Baked Lamb and Rice with Yogurt (Tavë Kosi)
Garlicky lamb shoulder is baked with rice and fragrant spices under a veil of tart, egg-enriched yogurt.
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. olive oil, preferably Lucini brand
2 lb. lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1⁄2" pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄3 cup flour
3 tbsp. long grain white rice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp. finely chopped oregano
4 cups plain yogurt
1⁄8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Heat 3 tbsp. butter and the oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Season lamb with salt and pepper and toss with 1⁄4 cup flour. Working in batches, cook lamb, turning as needed, until browned, 10–12 minutes. Add rice, garlic, and 1⁄2 cup water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until rice is just tender, about 18 minutes. Stir in oregano, salt, and pepper and transfer to a 9" x 13" baking dish; set aside.
Heat oven to 375°. Melt remaining butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in remaining flour; cook until smooth, 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in yogurt, nutmeg, eggs, salt, and pepper until smooth. Pour yogurt sauce evenly over lamb mixture. Bake until golden and the lamb is tender, 45–60 minutes.