Sunday, 3 May 2020

Lamb Kleftiko

Lamb Kleftiko is a joyous dish, it takes just a little effort to make something truly spectacular and utterly delicious; you just have to be prepared to have the oven on all day. 

The marinade that is rubbed into the meat, helps to give a beautiful flavour, and cooking low and slow in the oven, means the meat will literally fall or pull apart at the slightest touch of a fork.

I make the lamb on a bed of potatoes and tomatoes with a few other seasonings, and then served with a Greek Salad and some Tzatziki.

I've used the cheaper cut of half a shoulder of lamb here, but many recipes call for the more expensive leg; which would be great if you are feeding a bigger crowd.

The below serves 4-5

Lamb Kleftiko

Here's how:

1/2 shoulder of lamb

For the meat rub/marinade:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon

The vegetable base:

  • 6 potatoes
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Kalamata or other black olives
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large red onion
  • Handful bay leafs
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 glass water

You will also need:

  • Grease proof/baking paper or tin foil
  • Large roasting tin or casserole dish
  • 1/2 glass water
  • Small corner of feta cheese (optional)

Firstly make the meat rub by either placing all of the ingredients into a Nutribullet or blender, or simply pulsing with a pestle and mortar. You should get a dark brown paste.

Take the lamb shoulder and rub it all over with the paste using either your hands or the back of a spoon. Make sure every piece of lamb has a flavourful coating and leave to stand for an hour. 

At this point you can pre-heat the oven to a low 160 degrees.

Now get a large roasting tin or dish, and firstly cover with lots of excess with a sheet of grease proof paper or tin foil length-ways. Now do the same width-ways so you have one piece over another; so once everything is in the dish, you can cover it up well and loosely.

In the meantime you can prepare the vegetables. Firstly peel the potatoes and cut into large wedges; if you cut them too small, they may turn to mush in the long cooking process. Scatter them all over in the roasting tin.

For the red onion, peel it and cut into wedges and scatter about. For the garlic you can either peel or leave in the skins and scatter all over. Throw in the olives (as I have two small girls, I tend to remove the stones first and throw them in). Now cut the lemon into quarters and add to the dish. Season at this point with salt and pepper.

The vegetable base for the Kleftiko

Now you can place the lamb shoulder on top of the vegetables. At this point pour over the dish a full glass of white wine (any open bottle will do it) and then re-fill with water from the tap and pour over this too. 

Lamb Kleftiko before it is wrapped and popped into the oven

Now is the wrapping process; you want it sealed up, but not too tightly. Grease proof paper lends itself really well to this. I've tried to show pictures of how I do this; you can also use kitchen string, but I find you can fold and scrunch it easy enough. So firstly take the length ways piece of paper, fold each end over towards each other, and then take the corners and kind of knot or scrunch around each other so the dish is loosely covered. 

How to wrap the first layer of paper around the Kleftiko

The second bit is easier, you just fold over and then to seal, I pour over about half a glass more water, which stops the liquid inside escaping and helps to keep the lamb moist and tender.

Fully wrapped Kleftiko with a little water over to keep it sealed

Now place into the oven and cook for a minimum of 5 hours; but for perfect, pull-apart at the touch lamb, cook for 7 hours. Remove from the oven, and serve at the table with your choice of accompaniments and unwrap at the table for the big reveal. As an optional extra, you could crumble over a little feta cheese before serving for one final Greek flourish. Enjoy!

Lamb Kleftiko

If you love Greek dishes like us, you may enjoy some of the below recipes:

Chicken Souvlaki
Prawn Saganaki
Pastitsio - The Greek Lasagna
Gemistes - Greek Stuffed Tomatoes
Feta and Spinach Open Tart
Greek Chicken Traybake
Beef Stamna 
Spanakopita - Greek Cheese and Spinach Pie
Soutzoukakia - Greek Meatball Bake
Greek Chicken One Pot

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