Slow Cooked Gower lamb Kleftiko with traditional Greek salad and tzatziki

Easter recipe with Private Chef Christos

This is a true classic of Greek cuisine and an alternative for your Easter Sunday celebration dinner. There’s nothing like fragrant local lamb flavoured with garlic, lemon and oregano to bring the essence of a Greek holiday to your table.

    Slow roasted, simple ingredients, juicy lamb falling off the bone, melt in your mouth potatoes, cooked along with and infused by the garlic, onions, roasted sweet peppers and juicy cherry tomatoes and topped with Greek tangy feta cheese. This is a combination made in heaven and a mouth-watering classic Greek dish.

INGREDIENTS

For the rub/marinade

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped Fresh Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp chopped Fresh Thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Dry mustard
  • 1 Tbsp rock salt salt
  • 2 Tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) trimmed bone-in leg of lamb or lamb shoulder bone in or lamb shanks

Vegetables 

  • 8 medium sized potatoes
  • 6 medium sized brown onions peeled and sliced
  • 6 bell peppers sliced (any combination of colour but be sure that at least two of them are green)
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • Water enough to cover the potatoes and more if need through the cooking time
  • 200g Greek feta cheese cut into cubes

Start by marinating the lamb for at least 1-4 hours or preferably overnight with the simple herb garlic, dry mustard rub. There is nothing but good that comes from marinating lamb. The lamb absorbs so much flavour from even an hour of marinating.

The day before cooking, take a small paring knife and make approximately 15-16 incisions into the flesh of the lamb. Peel the garlic gloves. And slice each clove in half and then insert each sliver into the incisions.

Rub the remaining dry marinade ingredients into the lamb and place into a freezer bag.

Drizzle a good amount of olive oil into the bag along with juice from one lemon and shake and rub all over. Leave overnight in the fridge.

The next day slice all the veggies (potatoes onions, and fresh bell peppers and place in a large roasting pan.

Cut the potatoes a little larger than you normally would because of the long roasting time. They soak up all the delicious flavours of the lamb while it’s roasting and also add flavour to the delicious pan juices.

Add the sliced onions, peppers and cherry tomatoes. Toss all the vegetables in the lemon juice, wine, olive oil and water then place the lamb on top and cover the pan with a lid or a layer of parchment followed with a layer of foil to form a tight seal.

Cook in the oven for 31/2 to 41/2 hours at 160c – 140c – fan or gas mark 3 until the meat is falling off the bone, adding a little more water, if necessary halfway through to keep the vegetables moist.

Remove the cover increase temperature to 180c – 160c fan or gas mark 4 and add crumbled feta cheese and cook for about 20 mins until lamb and vegetables are brown but don’t let it dry out.

Serve with Greek salad and tzatziki, and a sour dough bread to suck all the succulent juices from the lamb and the vegetables.

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TZATZIKI

Tzatziki is a traditional Greek garlic, yogurt and cucumber sauce, that is known and loved around the world. It’s cool and refreshing with creamy and light texture and is the ideal match for any grilled meat or vegetable skewers and of course with Greek salad. It’s very often served as a meze dip with pita bread. 

The main ingredients for making an authentic Greek tzatziki are plenty of fresh garlic, extra creamy Greek thick yogurt and cucumber. A great Tzatziki sauce is all about the garlic. If you are not afraid of the smell use a little extra.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cucumber no need to peel or seed the cucumber first, grate on the large holes of your box grater
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or grated but not chopped if you want to avoid lumps at your sauce
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 500gr strained Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tbsp of red wine
  • A pinch of rock salt and ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 30gr chopped mint (optional)
  • 20gr chopped dill (optional)

Method 
Working with one big handful at a time, lightly squeeze the grated cucumber between your palms over the sink to remove excess moisture. Transfer the squeezed cucumber to a serving bowl and repeat with the remaining cucumber.

Add the yogurt, olive oil, herbs, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to the bowl, and stir to blend. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. Taste and add additional chopped fresh herbs, lemon juice, and/or salt, if necessary.

Serve tzatziki immediately or chill for later.

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GREEK SALAD

If you have ever visited Greece, you can’t have missed out on this classic Greek feta salad.

Greek salad is also known as “Horiatiki or Xoriatiki” which means village salad. This actually means that it is a rustic dish, made simply with a few good quality ingredients. No fancy presentation or preparation needed to impress with this dish.

A traditional Greek salad recipe will always (and only) include tomato, sliced cucumber, green pepper, sliced red onion, Kalamata black olives or Halkidiki green olives and of course Greek feta cheese.

The simplicity of a classic Greek salad recipe also lies in the dressing which is made with good quality extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. The dressing mingles with the juices of the vegetables making it really hard to resist digging in with a bite or two of sourdough bread.

INGREDIENTS 

  • 4 vine tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 1 medium red onion sliced into rings
  • 1 cucumber sliced into thick half-moons
  • 1 green pepper sliced
  • 16 black or green olives
  • 200g block feta cheese (7 ounces)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 50 ml to 100 ml o extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Sea salt

Cut the tomatoes and cucumber in large chunks to give a more rustic touch. Cut the tomatoes straight into the serving bowl, so that the juices remain inside the bowl. Add some olives, slice red onions and slice green peppers.

Keep the dressing simple and authentic. Dress with Greek extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. Toss gently in the dressing, so that the flavours blend with the juices of the tomatoes and the aromas of the other vegetables.

For seasoning use some sea salt and dried Greek oregano. Be careful not to add too much salt as feta cheese can be already salty. Finish with good quality Greek feta cut into large chunks, but not crumbled.

When you serve Greek salad remember to set aside on the table a small bottle of olive oil and one with vinegar, so that anyone can add an extra drizzle if they like.

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