Lamb ”Kleftiko”: Traditional Easter Recipe from the Peloponnese

Kleftiko literally means stolen, but it’s wrapped like a gift, and perfect for sharing.


Chef: George Felemegkas

Preparation & Cooking time: 30mins & 2h30m

Serves: 6-8, Difficulty level: Moderate

This recipe comes to us from George Felemegkas, a chef born and raised near the Ladon River in the mountainous village of Dafni in Kalavryta. An example for every young person aspiring to a career in food, he has spent the past three years at the side of three Michelin-starred Spanish chef Quique Dacosta, who made him a part of his “brigade” at the new gastro restaurant he opened in downtown Madrid.

When we asked him to recommend a recipe from home, he came back to us with a long list of dishes, accompanied by information and details that attest to his knowledge, experience and comprehensive research.

Method

Place the diced meat in a bowl.

In a small blender, pulse the honey, garlic, paprika, oregano, marjoram, lemon juice and zest until you have a smooth marinade.

Pour over the meat and use your hands to cover every piece.

Preheat the oven to 180°C on the fan setting.

In a wide saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium to high heat and sear the meat for 5-6 minutes until nicely browned.

Add the onion, season and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onion is soft.

Add the wine and reduce for 4-5 minutes before adding the stock (or water). Bring to a boil over a high heat and then remove from the stovetop.

Lay a large double layer of parchment paper on your kitchen counter.

Place the peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and meat in the middle, along with some of the juices from the pan.

Add the diced cheese on top and distribute the thyme sprigs around the meat.

Wrap the mixture in the parchment paper like a parcel and secure well with butcher’s twine.

Then wrap the paper parcel up snugly in aluminum foil. Place on a rack above a baking tray in the oven and cook for 2 hours, until the meat is tender.

Remove the oven rack and carefully open the parcel at the top, cutting away the string.

Return to the oven after increasing the heat to 200°C and cook for another 15-25 minutes to give the meat some color.

To serve, carefully empty your kleftiko onto a large platter and garnish with a few leaves of fresh marjoram or oregano and some lemon zest.

 

Originally published in Gastronomos magazine.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg meat from a leg of lamb + 500 g lamb shoulder diced into 2-3 cm cubes
  • 60 g thyme honey
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp dried marjoram
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 200 ml dry, white wine
  • 500 ml vegetable stock or water
  • 2 red Florina peppers, diced
  • 2 green bull’s horn peppers, diced
  • 300 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 medium potatoes, diced
  • 300 g kefalotyri cheese, diced
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 70 ml olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving

  • A few leaves of marjoram or oregano
  • Lemon zest


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