It’s the fifth installment of my and Ann’s Monthly Mystery Munchies and this month we went Greek. When scouring the internet and cookbooks for ideas, I settled on lamb kleftiko. Why? I freaking love a good roast! Also, the story behind it is so amusing and that endeared me. ‘Kleftiko’ means ‘stolen’ in Greek. Back in the day, bandits would thieve cattle and cook the meat, sealed in a pit oven and covered with sand, to prevent their opponents from seeing the fire. They would leave the meat buried in the ground all day and return to a slow-cooked meal at night. Genius. I’m not an advocate for theft but I like the initiative these dudes showed. (Please buy your meat with actual money!)
The dish is encased in layers of tin foil and/or parchment paper (unless you happen to have a pit oven). Here’s where it gets even yummier: it’s marinated overnight in garlic, fresh herbs and lemon juice. Then, when you’re ready to cook it, it’s surrounded by veggies, topped with thickly sliced tomatoes, sprinkled with seasoning and drizzled with olive oil. And a partridge in a pear tree.
Think of it as your one-stop roast pot. Remove the meat from the fridge an hour before you’re ready to roast, cook it on low for 4-5 hours depending on how you like it, and when you take it out of the oven, you have everything you need. Beautiful, succulent, falling-off-the-bone lamb, and potatoes, onions and carrots that have been absorbing all the tasty lamb and herb juices. No missioning with extra veggies. Carve it, dish it and you’re good to go. Amen. Let’s do this, but before we go ahead, make sure you mosey on over to Grubbs n Critters for my BBF (Best Blogging Friend) Ann’s take on this month’s theme.
Monthly Mystery Munchies: My Big Fat Greek Lamb Kleftiko
1.8-2kg leg of lamb
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from stalk
1 sprig lemon thyme, leaves removed from stalk
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 garlic cloves, crushed and halved
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
2 tomatoes, thickly sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and halved
4 carrots, sliced lengthways
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
Freshly cracked black pepper & salt
2. Make incisions in the lamb, 2-3 in a vertical row and repeat across the meat. (Don’t cut all the way through to the bottom.) Stuff the holes with the garlic and herb mixture. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice with black pepper and salt and pour over the lamb, rubbing it in with your hands, and rubbing the underside of the meat too.
4. Remove lamb from the fridge and let it rest for an hour before you cook it. Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F). Lay a long piece of tin foil down, lengthways, and lay a piece of parchment paper over it. Lay another piece of foil horizontally, and again lay a piece of parchment paper over it. (You’re creating a cross.)
5. Cut the onions into quarters, positioning one onion in the centre of the cross. Halve the carrots lengthways (I never peel them, I’m too lazy, but I wash them thoroughly) add 6 halves to the onions. Peel and halve your potatoes, placing 6-8 halves with the onions and carrots. What you’re going for is a mixture of veggies at the bottom of the dish, but not all of them. Drizzle some olive oil over them (about 2 tablespoons)and grind some black pepper and salt over them. Place the lamb on top of the veggies and drizzle more olive oil on top of the lamb. Sprinkle with salt. Position the rest of the chopped veggies around the lamb. Place 6 tomato slices, cut thick, on top of the lamb.
6. Bring all of the foil/parchment paper sides together. What you’re going for is a very well-sealed effect. Put the parcel in a deep roasting dish put the dish in the middle shelf of your oven. Roast at 160°C (320°F) for 4-5 hours (4 hours for rare, 4½ for medium and 5 for well done).
7. Remove the roasting tray from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before opening it. Carve the lamb, add veggies to the plate and dig in!