Happy Good Friday!
Today I’m off to my Yiayia’s house to do some traditional Greek Easter baking, the highlight of Easter time for me. Our Easter isn’t until next week, but there is a lot to be done and that means tonnes of prep (my grandma doesn’t do things by halves – hundreds of breads, pastries and biscuits. Basically enough to feed the entire London Greek Cypriot community). Cooking with her is sheer joy, no measuring or precision, everything by eye and instinctive. It’s loud and fun and utter chaos. My favourite time of year!
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to shoot a Greek Cypriot Easter story for Jamie Magazine, with my gorgeous grandparents and sister, cooking all the traditional foods and hanging out with them all day. Essentially what we do normally but in front of a camera, they loved it. So, today I’m posting an oldie but a goodie for you. A traditional (but with a twist) kleftiko recipe, that is perfect for Easter Sunday. And hopefully in time for you all to add to your shopping list to make this weekend.
There is nothing quite like kleftiko, lamb cooked the classic way, slowly in a clay oven. Just make sure that your meat is well sealed by the greaseproof paper here, and cook it low and slow for the best result.
- 2.2kg lamb shoulder
- Olive oil
- A good pinch of ground cinnamon
- 2 unwaxed lemons
- 1 garlic bulb, cloves separated
- 4 bay leaves
- A few sprigs of fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon of dried)
- 5 – 6 spring onions, finely sliced
- A few sprigs of mint, leaves picked
- 1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed
- A splash of red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 150/ gas mark 2, and take your lamb out of the fridge 20 minutes before cooking.
Place the lamb in a snug fitting roasting tray, drizzle over some olive oil, sprinkle on the cinnamon, season it, then rub it all into the meat. Squeeze over the juice of 1 of the lemons.
Crush the garlic cloves and add them to the tray along with the bay leaves, then scrunch up and tear over the oregano (if using dried, sprinkle it on). Pour in enough water to come 1cm up the sides of the tray. Halve the second lemon and add to the tray.
Take a piece of greaseproof paper, just larger than the tray and rinse it under running water. Scrunch it up and tuck it tightly around the lamb. Pop the tray in the oven and roast the meat for 4 – 5 hours until tender and falling off the bone. Check it during cooking and baste with the juices in the tray.
Once cooked, leave it to rest for 15 minutes, basting with the juices. Meanwhile pop the spring onions, mint and pomegranate seeds into a bowl, toss through the vinegar and scatter over the lamb. Serve with the roasted lemon halves.