This Mediterranean oven baked Lamb and Rice dish is a one pot wonder!! I love making this dish at home for big holidays like Easter. In my native language (Albanian), we call this dish “Pilaf me mish qingji ne furrë“. I’ve kept the below recipe simple, but there are so many variations to this old fashioned recipe that I have added some suggestions below on how you can spruce it up as well:).
What Type of Lamb Can Be Used With This Dish?
There are so many options you can use. I highly recommend that you use pieces of lamb that have some bone in. The bone will give so much more flavors to the whole casserole.
My favorite cuts are loin chops, shoulder chop, lamb shank, lamb leg with bone in etc etc. Lamb rack does have bone in, but I prefer grilling the chops from the lamb rack instead of baking them with rice.
Rice For Baked Dishes
I love baking rice with other ingredients. One of my most visited recipes is this Baked Chicken Drumsticks with Rice Casserole. Usually I use white rice for baking, I tend to alternate between basmati or jasmine rice.
I don’t use brown rice for baking because balance of picking the right amount of liquid is a bit more delicate. Also, I don’t use short grain rice for this dish either.
How To Serve Baked Lamb and Rice?
I love serving this baked lamb and rice dish with mostly Mediterranean side dishes. Pick a salad with lots of vinegar or lemon as well as yogurt side dishes. Both yogurt and acidity from salads help cut through the grease from lamb. These side dishes will balance the meal and flavors.
In Albania sometimes we serve a small bowl of yogurt, plain yogurt as a side dish. It’s very commonly used across the country.
Variations for this Casserole Recipe
My goal with this blog is to record some old fashioned recipes that I learned from my mom and grandparents to hand over to my kids one day. Some of these recipes have evolved with time and have gotten more sophisticated with more ingredients and different cooking methods.
You can add these ingredients to the casserole:
- onions or leeks
- green peas
- more seasonings to taste
- Several Greek recipes include 1-2 cloves when you boil the lamb
Also, you can cook the rice in stovetop instead of baking. Cook lamb like you would normally cook it. Then reserve the stock to make the rice with it. You can proceed to just broil the lamb briefly to give it some color on the outer layer. Then serve together with the rice and regular side dishes.
Additional Tips & Notes
There are some additional tips I would like to add in addition to recipe instructions below.
- If you are using white rice, like basmati or jasmine, you need to use double liquid quantities to amount of rice.
- Make sure to not use a too small baking dish to bake this casserole. Rice grows in volume, so it can spill over if you use a small dish.
- Cook the lamb in low heat for a long time. This is not grilling where most people cook the lamb medium rare etc. You want to cook the lamb to the point where it looks like it will fall from the bones. Slow cooking is best! If you don’t cook it long enough, lamb meat can be like leather.
- Lamb stock can be too flavorful for some. I love it and use all of it in rice, however some people find it too strong. In that case use half lamb stock and half water to create the liquid you would need to bake the rice.
Oven Baked Lamb and Rice Dish
- 1 Oval Dutch Oven 5.5 Qt
- 3 lbs lamb loin chops
- 2 cups white rice most commonly used are basmati or jasmine
- 4 tbsps olive oil, divided extra virgin
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 peppercorn
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 5 cups water more if needed later
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp Mediterranean Sea Salt
- 0.5 tbsp black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves
- Season lamb on both sides with salt and pepper, be generous. If you like a lot of garlic you can add some minced garlic in this step in addition to the one you'll use below.
- Add about 2 tbsps of olive oil on the Dutch Oven, heat and then add the lamb loin chops. Brown lamb on both sides, few minutes each side.
- Add 5 cups of water to lamb once it is browned. Add oregano, rosemary, peppercorn, bay leaves. Turn heat to low once the water boil and cover the pot. I usually let cook in low heat for over an hour. You want the lamb meat to look like it's falling off the bones. Don't increase the temperature to speed up the process. It has to slow cook in the Dutch Oven.
- Once lamb is cooked, remove lamb pieces with a slotted spoon and place on a platter. Pour the stock through a metal strainer and reserve the stock on the side, discard the pieces stack on the strainer. At this point also start preheating oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add remaining 2 tbsps of olive oil in the Dutch oven, place it on stovetop in medium heat. Add garlic cloves and saute until they become golden and aromatice. Add rice and toast it with garlic and oil until it is all translucent.
- Remove from heat. Use measuring cups to add lamb stock to the dutch oven. If you added 2 cups of rice, then you need to add 4 cups of liquid. Measure the lamb stock and add over rice. If you have 4 cups of lamb stock, that's great. If it's not enough, then supplement with water until you add 4 cups of liquid to Dutch Oven. Add more salt if needed.
- Finally add lamb loin chops back over rice and stock, nestle them in. Bake for at least 30 minutes, check at that point that all liquid has been absorbed. Serve with your favorite side dishes.
- If there are leftover, you can store in refrigerator to reheat again in few days. Use an airtight container with lid.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please save the below image to your boards in Pinterest. Let me know in comments if you have any questions or feel free to tag me in social media with your pictures of this recipe of variations of it:).
Other Lamb Recipes
I grew up in the Mediterranean and we love lamb meat. I also lived for a little while in New Zealand and lamb meat there is amazing as well. So no wonder I tend to cook it occasionally for my family too (hopefully one day my kids would love it like I do).