Monthly Mystery Munchies: My Big Fat Greek Lamb Kleftiko

Lamb Kleftiko 11It’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

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Supplies:

Lamb Kleftiko 11.8-2kg 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

Lamb Kleftiko 21. Crush and halve the garlic cloves. Put all the herbs in a bowl, add the garlic and olive oil and stir well.

Lamb Kleftiko 3

 

 

 

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.

Lamb Kleftiko 53. Put the meat in a sealable bag and refrigerate overnight, or for a minimum of 2 hours.

 

 

 

Lamb Kleftiko 74. 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.)

Lamb Kleftiko 85. 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.

Lamb Kleftiko 96. 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).
Lamb Kleftiko 10

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!

 

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Chicken Florentine

If you’re looking for a new favourite meal, this is your guy. It’s dish-intensive but sooooo worth it! Hopefully you have a dishwasher, or kids, because kids need responsibilities and dishes need washing!

I don’t know where to start when describing this dish. Bacon. Chicken. Two different types of cheese. Creamy mushroom soup and extra cream! It’s a taste-fest like no other. The Husband immediately informed me that this is his new number one. I never thought I’d see the day. I mean, dude would live on lasange if he could, but along came this delight and knocked it off its top spot. They say change is good… except when The Husband asks you to make it again two days later!

Chicken Florentine

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Chicken Florentine 1Supplies:

  • 500g boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks
  • 200g bacon, cut up and cooked
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 500g spinach, par cooked
  • 400g chopped mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tin condensed creamy mushroom soup
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herbs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 200g grated cheddar
  • 200g grated mozzarella
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Making it happen:

Chicken Florentine 21. Cut up the bacon and fry in 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, until cooked, about 10 minutes. Set aside but keep the juices in the pan.

 

 

Chicken Florentine 32. Cut the chicken breasts into chunks. Dredge them through flour, shaking off the excess. In the same pan, fry the chicken pieces on medium heat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and fry for another 5 mins. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Chicken Florentine 93. Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, par cook the spinach, just enough until it softens slightly. Spinach, when uncooked, takes up a large amount of space, and you’re only par cooking it until it shrinks.

 

Chicken Florentine 84. Preheat your oven to 200°C (mine takes 10 minutes to heat up to that temperature, making this the perfect time to switch it on). Pour the condensed mushroom soup and cream into a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the Italian herbs and lemon juice and stir well. Add the cheddar and stir until melted.

Chicken Florentine 65. In a deep dish, spray cooking spray at the bottom and layer the spinach across the dish. Place the mushrooms over the spinach and pour half the sauce over the mushrooms. Spread the chicken pieces on top and pour the remaining sauce over the chicken, making sure you cover the entire dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Serve with rice or pasta.

Chicken Florentine 7

 

Roast Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Rosemary

Roast chicken 5 2This is, without doubt, one of my all-time favourite dishes. There are few things that compare to the delicious, inviting aroma emanating from the kitchen when this chicken is roasting to perfection. Stuffed with garlic and lemon, drizzled with butter and rosemary, with some extra lemon juice for good measure, this is a hit that you’ll be making for years to come. The fragrant woody taste of the rosemary is perfectly matched with the creaminess of the butter, making the skin crisp and tasty. The citrus flavours are complimented with crushed garlic cloves and the entire dish comes together beautifully!

Roast Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Rosemary

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Roast chicken ingredients 1 2Supplies:

  • 1.5 kg chicken, washed and giblets removed
  •  2-3 lemons
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 50g melted butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making it happen: 

Roast chicken 1 21. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Remove the giblets if necessary, wash the chicken under running water and pat dry. Season the chicken thoroughly, on both sides and inside the cavity, with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

Roast chicken 3 22. Cut 2 of the lemons into quarters, crush the garlic cloves and stuff inside the cavity. Melt the butter, add the rosemary leaves, two tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Pour over the chicken and make sure it’s spread across the entire chicken, including underneath.

 

 

Roast chicken 7 23. Roast the chicken at 200°C for half an hour, remove from the oven and pour the juices over it. Turn down the heat to 180°C (350°F) and roast the chicken for another hour. If it’s not done after an hour, roast it for another 10 minutes.

The result is a a moist, tender chicken with crispy, buttery, zesty skin and meat infused with garlic and lemon. 

 

 

Marinated Baked Pork Chops

I love a good marinade, I really do. What makes this recipe so inviting is that you can prep the pork chops the night before, or the morning of, leave them to marinate in this delicious, tangy and sweet sauce, and pop them out of the fridge when you’re ready to cook. No standing over the hob frying them; whip them out of the fridge, plonk them in the oven and you’re done. They are so tender and juicy, not a hint of dryness, and the taste… oh man, the flavours.

Marinated baked pork chops

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Marinated pork chops ingredientsSupplies:

  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (obsessed)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (live for)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 pork loin chops, fat trimmed
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making it happen:

Marinated pork chops 2 31. Mix all ingredients. In a baking dish, lay your pork chops flat and coat in the marinade on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

 

 

Marinated pork chops 3 22. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake the chops for 20 – 25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and veggies. Done.

 

Savoury Mince with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Green Peppers

Savoury mince is one of those things that tends to ping on my ‘boring’ radar, but when made with the right ingredients, as well as a good balance of herbs, it’s something that will keep you coming back. It’s easy and versatile too, and I appreciate those qualities in a recipe. Serve it with rice, potatoes or pasta, which you can cook while the mince is simmering, and the whole thing will take you less that forty minutes!

Savoury Mince with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Green Peppers

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Savoury mince ingredients 1 2Ingredients:

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400g chopped mushrooms
  • 2 chopped green (bell) peppers
  • 1 sachet (50g) tomato paste
  • 1 sachet (or cube) low sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
Savoury mince 3 2
1. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil on medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and green (bell) peppers, and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the juices in the pan.

 

Savoury mince 10 2

2. In the vegetable juices, simmer the mince for 2 minutes until partially browned. Add the tomato paste and simmer for a further 8 minutes.

 

 

Savoury mince 8 2

3. Re-add the vegetables to the mince. Drizzle in the Worcester sauce and sprinkle in the oregano, parsley, black pepper and beef stock. Stir thoroughly and simmer uncovered on medium-low for 15 – 20 minutes until it’s thickened. Serve with potatoes, pasta, in tortillas or, my preference, wild rice. This is also great for the kiddies and keeps well for a couple of days.

 

 

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies: Lamb Saag and Aloo Curry

It’s the third installment of Monthly Mystery Munchies with myself and Ann at Grubbs n Critters. This month I chose lemons/limes, thyme and coriander as our ingredients. I really enjoyed playing around with these ingredients and pairing them with others. The recipe that won is lamb, saag (spinach) and aloo (potato) curry. I never say ‘no’ to curry and lamb is the ideal meat for this. Naturally I added potatoes because in my mind, curry without potatoes is like… summer without blue skies, mojitos without mint (I just recoiled), Bono without his sunglasses – unexpected, disappointing and unnatural.

Ann made spiced chicken with saffron, thyme and lemon gravy. Okay, lemon gravy? I’m all in. Saffron? What a treat! Check it out, it’s droolicious. She added other interesting and complimentary ingredients and you can see this is a winner.

I too added a plethora of other ingredients – veggies, spices and herbs, and finally got the balance right. What one needs to keep in mind when using so many ingredients is that balance is key – especially with spices. They shouldn’t be overpowering because that can ruin the dish in one easy step. They should all work well together to create the ideal blend. From fragrant coriander (cilantro) to succulent lamb to the bite of the chillies, this comes together beautifully! This meal contains many superfoods and superspices (yep, that’s a thing), so not only is it delicious, tasty and fragrant but ridiculously healthy too! Here we go:

Monthly Mystery Munchies: Lamb Saag and Aloo Curry

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1kg lamb knuckles, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 4 leeks, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, sliced (I always keep the seeds in)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 5 cardamom pods, crushed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 500g baby tomatoes, halved (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
  • 250g spinach, chopped
  • 1kg potatoes, halved
  • Vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro) for garnish
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Lamb Saag and Aloo 3 21. In a large pan, heat up the olive oil and fry the lamb on medium low until browned. You might have to do this in batches. Fry for ± 5 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside. Fry the leeks in olive oil for 5 minutes.
Add chillies, garlic, ginger and cardamom and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, spinach, thyme and remaining spices and simmer for 5 minutes.

 

 

Lamb Saag and Aloo 5 22. Add the lamb and potatoes, pour in 250ml vegetable stock and bring to a boil with the lid on. Uncover and simmer for 1 hour, pouring in the lime juice during the last 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Lamb Saag and Aloo 7 23. If you have the time, let the curry stand for a few hours. Garnish with coriander, however much you like (we like a lot!). Curry is always better when it stands for a while so this is the perfect dish to cook the day before.

 

Drunken Pulled Pork

No no, I wasn’t drunk! I did, however, get the food tipsy! I love the convenience factor of this recipe. That all you have to do is mix some stuff together (and, in my case, steal a beer from my husband), chop a few things and pour into a slow cooker is very appealing to me when I’m having a lazy day. It is tender, people, so very tender, and tasty too. You can add barbecue sauce to the pork once you’ve shredded it, that’s entirely up to you. I popped some bread rolls into the oven and crisped them, added the pork and mustard and served with potato wedges. It’s so easy! This is the perfect recipe to put on in the morning, go about your day and come home to a perfectly cooked piece of delicious pork, or put on before you go to bed and wake up to a kitchen that smells irresistible!

Drunken pulled pork ingredients2kg (4.5lbs) pork shoulder
350ml (±12oz) beer (preferably dark, such as Guinness or Castle Milk Stout)
1 x tin whole peeled tomatoes
2 teaspoons paprika
4 sliced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 chopped onion
3 chopped carrots

 

Drunken pulled pork 1 2Place the pork in your slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together, stirring well to ensure they’re well mixed. Pour over the pork and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.

 

 

 

 

Drunken pulled pork 2 2Carefully remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred. This is easy because it’s so tender and basically just falls apart. Scoop out the carrots from the slow cooker and discard. Put the shredded pork into a large bowl and mix some of the juices with it.

 

 

 

Drunken pulled pork 3 2Serve on toasted bread rolls with mustard (or barbecue sauce or whatever you prefer).