Fellow meat lovers can you agree with me that, when it comes to a meat-loving, gorge-yourself-till you’re-stuffed kind of meal, there is nothing better than a huge leg (or shoulder) of lamb that has been roasted to perfection?
There really is nothing better, right? The roasted lamb vibes win every time. And who can stop them because – →foodie honesty coming through← – roasted pork is meh; roast chicken is just too easy, too plain, too ordinary; and beef may be a port in a storm but it’s certainly not the desired destination.
Yep lamb is that not-so-boring roasted meal – without going overboard and cooking up some exotic game mean (of which Venison would be the ultimate choice, am I riiiight? Goose? Duck? Boar, anyone?) – and it will have your table fellows smacking their lips and coming back for more and more and more – and some more after that.
And if there is going to be anything else better than a roasted leg of lamb, then it is going to be a leg of lamb that has been slow roasted (and I mean ssslllloooooowwwww – think four hours plus here fellow foodies – enough time to fill you home the most amazing roasting aromas), wrapped up in it’s own flavour keeping parcel on top of a layer of veggies that soak up all that lamb-y flavour greatness.
The result; soft and tender, fall of the bone lamb that oozes with flavour and dissolves in your mouth.
I told you…. lamb vibes EVERY TIME!!!!
About this recipe: As the title suggests this is based on the Greek-style of roasted lamb “Kleftiko” but I have tweaked it a little.
Usually the Greek version has Oregano as its flavour star with perhaps marjoram and, sometimes, even dill as the backseat drivers, yet rosemary – depending on the region of Greece and the creator’s preferences – doesn’t always make an appearance, usually saved for non-Greek variations of the dish – like mine.
But for me, roast lamb cannot be called roast lamb without rosemary, because what is roast lamb without rosemary? To me this doesn’t compute and I will not except anything else (stubborn much?!). Lamb without rosemary is like salt without pepper, cumin without coriander, a TV without Netflix…
And, talking of obligatory food combinations, rosemary and lamb would not be compete without garlic – and lots of it. This flavour threesome is, in my mind, the epitome of meat-loving flavours and I couldn’t cook a beautiful let of lamb without it.
So not only is there an abundance of rosemary but also enough garlic to ward off even the most persistent of vampires. Now, you may be wary to use an entire head of garlic in a single recipe but, please, move past your hesitations because, what you are going to be left with will be – in the words of Barney Stinson – LEGENDARY!
When it comes to cooking and eating red meats, I’m the sort of person that wants as little cooking as possible. When talking about beef, lamb, or even venison, “medium” and “well-done” are considered swear words and should never be uttered. Rare and blue are the holy red meat mantras.
For me, meat that has be cooked to “well-done” (or, as I like to call it, “overdone”) looses all its flavour – not to mention nutrients – and tastes and feels like eating old leather (not that I have tried eating old leather, you understand).
And yet, my love of rare meats that are flavourful and juicy can be put aside when we are talking about slow-cooked/ slow-roasted meals. Because, either contained in a slow cooker, or wrapped snuggly in a foil parcel in the oven, a slow cooked slab of meat retains its juices and stays soft and juicy and full of flavour – the ultimate goal of roasted meats.
And this exactly what is going on here with this lamb Kleftiko – beautiful slow roasted lamb that retains its flavour and juices, whilst allowing some of it to ooze out onto the thick, colourful layer of veggies beneath to create a meal that is delicious, nutritious, and worthy of second helpings.
And, with that, I’m going back for second third helpings
Kleftiko – Greek-Style Slow-Roasted Lamb
Prep Time: 20 mins || Cook Time: 40 hrs 30 mins
- 1 Large leg of lamb (between 2 – 3 kg)
- salt and pepper
- 1 large bunch of fresh rosemary
- 1 head of garlic, separated and peeled
- 4 medium sized potatoes, washed and chopped into thick wedges (they can be peeled if you wish)
- 1 medium sweet potato, washed and chopped into thick wedges (they can be peeled if you wish)
- 4 large carrots, washed and chopped into chunks (they can be peeled if you wish)
- 2 medium unions, peeled and cut into wedges
- 1 lemon, cut into eight wedges
- A decent lug of olive oil
- Cornstarch (optional, for gravy)
- Preheat your over to 170°C/ 340°F
- Season the leg of lamb with salt and pepper and, using are large knife, score 2cm deep lines across the top in a criss-cross pattern. Slice halve the garlic cloves into quarters and stuff into the crevasses along with halve of the rosemary sprigs (including the thinner stems)
- Take two long strips of aluminium foil and pace one lengthways and the other sideways across a large roasting tray (these strips need to be long enough to encase the lamb and veggies. I found 1.5m was enough). Repeat with baking paper that is slightly shorter than the aluminium strips.
- Place the vegetables, the remaining garlic cloves, the lemon wedges and the remaining rosemary springs into the roasting pan. Add a generous lug of olive oil (about 1/4 cup) and toss lightly to combine. Place the leg of lamb on top of the vegetables and drizzle with more olive oil. Wrap over the baking paper to form an enclosed pouch and then repeat with the aluminium foil until the pouch is sealed.
- Place in the middle of your oven and roast for 3 1/2 hours. When the time is up, remove the roasting tray from the oven and open up the pouch – prepare to be met with the most intense roast lamb flavours – and scrunch the sides down so as much of the meat and vegetables are exposed. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/ 390°F.
- Place the lamb back into the oven and roast for another 30 – 40 minutes or until nice browned on top. Remove the lamb, and place it on a board, or plate, and leave to rest – covered with aluminium foil – for about twenty minutes. If you would like to make a gravy: strain the juices from the pan into a sauce pan. Place the vegetables back into the oven to brown for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven off and keep them inside, with the oven door slightly ajar, until ready to serve.
- After it has rested, thickly slice the lamb and serve with the vegetables. For the gravy: add 1 cup of water to the lamb juices and bring to the boil. Rapidly boil for about 10 minutes or until the contents of the pan has reduced by half. Reduce the heat and whisk in 1 tbsp of cornstarch – adding more if necessary to reach you desired gravy consistency.