This dish is a another family favourite in our house and is often served for Sunday Roast. It’s very easy to make and hard to stuff up. As long as you follow the few steps in the Lamb Kleftiko Recipe you are guaranteed to have a tender, delicious crowd pleaser for your family too.
Kleftiko means ‘hidden meat’ in Greece and this dish is said to have been invented by the Klephts or Kleftes, a group of bandits and rebels who fought the Ottomans in the mountains in the 14th to 19th centuries.
They would steal a goat from an unsuspecting Shephard and cook the meat slowly in the ground so no-one could see or smell it.
This is also where the word Kleptomaniac (compulsive thief) comes from.
Today most Greeks would use lamb as well as goat, although often only for special occasions as both are quite expensive and are prized for their milk as well.
There are a few variations to the recipe:
- Some people cook the lamb whole or perhaps only in 2 pieces although you may need to cook it longer this way
- sometimes vegetables like peppers and gorgettes are added and even cheese!
- if you don’t have fresh herbs dried will work but you wont need as much
Best served with a fresh Horiataki (Greek Salad) of course and a crisp light red-wine.
Greek Lamb Kleftiko Recipe
Lamb Kleftiko is a classic dish that is easy to make. It differs from other slow-cooked lamb dishes by cooking it in baking paper. It's a dish you can pop in the oven after lunch and forget about until dinner.
The lamb juices and marinade make the potatoes extra delicious, sticky and golden.
- 2 kilo de-boned Leg of Lamb
- 1 kilos of small potatoes
- 2 lemons
- 4 large cloves of garlic ( or 6 small ones)
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 6 sprigs of rosemary
- 6 sprigs of oregano
- 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- Cut the lamb into large pieces and place in a bowl
- Cut the potatoes in half and place in another bowl
- Juice one lemon and remove seeds
- Grate rind from the other lemon and add to juice
- Peel garlic and add
- Add the leaves from the rosemary and oregano
- Add the honey
- Add the cinnamon
- Add the Chilli flakes
- Add a generous amount of salt and pepper to taste
- Add Olive oil
- Blend until a thick paste
- Mix 1/3 of the mixture through the potatoes and the other 2/3rds to the meat
- Line a Dutch Oven or Casserole Dish with baking paper
- Add the potatoes and then the lamb
- Cover with more baking paper and tuck it in firmly
- Cover with lid and bake on 160 degrees celsius for around 4 hours.
- Serve with Horiataki Salad.
While this recipe calls for chopped lamb pieces some people leave the meat whole or perhaps only cut it in half.
In years gone by goat would have been used more widely and you can use that too if available.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 916Total Fat: 55gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 233mgSodium: 227mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 68g