Chef Apostolos Altanis' octopus and shrimp youvetsi

March 01, 2020

Chef Apostolos Altanis' octopus and shrimp youvetsi

Last week we featured Apostolos Altanis on our blog because we believe he is a first class representative of global Greek gastronomy. Apostolos has a unique way of bringing a traditional Greek dish into the 21st century, while respecting all the traditional ingredients and authenticity of the recipe. 

Apostolos likes to work with Agrozimi's pasta products, since they are made with prime ingredients and are of excellent quality. Moreover they are made locally, about an hour outside of Thessaloniki, and the Martavaltzoglou family share Apostolos' philosophy of renewing traditional flavors with a modern touch.

Here is his recipe for a rich seafood youvétsi or giouvétsi using Agrozimi's egg and milk traditional orzo. Youvétsi/giouvétsi is usually made with meat and baked in an oven but we love how Apostolos has used seafood instead, cooking it on the stove, like a seafood risotto. If you can't find his favorite Metsovone cheese, you can substitute with another sharp, yellow cheese that melts nicely, such as sharp cheddar or even manchego. 

You can also adapt this recipe for today's Clean Monday holiday in Greece, the traditional start of Lent, when Greeks eat seafood and unleavened bread. Simply eliminate the cheese and use Agrozimi's spelt orzo instead of the egg-and-milk version. That also makes it a nice pescatarian dish or ideal for anyone lactose-intolerant.  

Step 1: Prepare the octopus

Ingredients (8 servings)

4 lbs. octopus

1 dried onion (cut into large cubes)

1 carrot (cleaned and cut into large pieces, about half cup)

2 pieces of star anise

2 cups celery (cleaned and cut into large pieces)

2 pieces of laurel leaf

200 ml white wine

100 ml vinegar

300 ml water

Remove the tentacles from the octopus and place them together with all the ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer for about 45΄. When the tentacles are ready, (they should feel tender when you poke them with a fork), remove them from the pot and keep 300 grams of the octopus broth. Let them cool and then cut into small pieces to use in Step 2.

Step 2: Prepare the youvetsi

Ingredients

1 lb Agrozimi orzo

1 dried onion (cut into large cubes)

1 laurel leaf

3.5 oz butter (almost a full stick)

2 cups Kefalotyri (grated Parmesan will work, too)

50 ml olive oil

1.5 liters vegetable broth

300 ml broth from the octopus in Step 1

100 ml white wine

1 cup fresh tomatoes (pureed in a blender)

1 pcs chili pepper (finely chopped)

2 cups Metsovone cheese (cut into small cubes - Manchego can also do)

16 pcs Shrimp (cleaned)

Salt & pepper

Preparation

In a saucepan, sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent.

Add the diced boiled octopus tentacles from Step 1, the shrimp, the bay leaf and the orzo. Continue to stir to avoid sticking for 1-2 minutes.

Douse it with the white wine and continue stirring, gradually adding the octopus broth, vegetable broth and tomato puree.

Stir continuously until the liquids have reduced, the orzo is cooked (not too soft, more al dente), and the mixture is nice and thick...but not dry!  In total, you should have taken about 10-12 minutes to get to this stage.

Remove from the heat, add the butter, the peppercorns, both the grated and cubed cheese and continue stirring until the materials are homogenized. If needed, correct the taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy!



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