When it came to the topic of food for The Peligoni Blog, there was only one candidate for the job, Stefanos Fragkogiannis, friend of The Club and owner of Villa Alico. Every month, Stefanos will provide us with recipes for wonderful local specialities. First up, he’s imparting the the know-how for Kleftiko, a winter warmer and Greek classic. No matter how hot it gets in summer, this is the first thing we order when we get to Greece, and now thanks to Stef, we have an authentic recipe to try at home during these chilly days.
Kleftiko | Roasted Leg of Lamb The Greek Way
A leg of lamb with most of the fat trimmed off
A few cloves of garlic, peeled, cut in half
A few sprigs of Rosemary
Mustard ( mild or any other kind, to taste )
After cleaning and preparing our leg of lamb, we start by preheating the oven to 200 C. Then we poke inch-deep holes all over the meaty areas with a sharp knife.
Then we season generously with salt and pepper and enough olive oil to coat everything. Don’t be reluctant ! Roll up your sleeves and give that leg a good massage rubbing the seasoning into every nook and cranny, making sure a little salt goes in the holes we poked earlier, as well.
Having done that, we take about a teaspoon of the mustard (or more, but we do want to keep the mustard-y flavour in the background !) and massage that on to the leg, as well. Once all the rubbing is done, we put half a clove of garlic in every one of the holes we made, followed by a tiny sprig of rosemary. Any left over garlic and rosemary can be saved for our “parcel”.
Once the lamb is taken care of, we can make its parcel, very simply by laying down a double layer of greaseproof paper and putting the leg in the middle. Another glug of olive oil ( don’t be stingy ! you can always buy some more delicious olive oil on your next trip to Zakynthos ! ) and any left over garlic cloves and now we can wrap it all up, making sure it all folded in such a way that prevents juices from leaking out. Give it a couple of ties with string and lay it in a baking tray.
We’ll pop the tray in the oven and after about an hour decrease the temperature to 160 C. After a total of 3 hours we give our parcel a firm squeeze ( carefully ! the whole thing is very hot and the paper will be rather fragile now ) and if the meat feels soft enough we can unwrap it and check. The end result should be melt-in-your-mouth goodness that falls of the bone with the slightest nudge. If you think it needs a little longer ( maybe a half hour more) cover it up again, loosely and pop it back in the oven.
As with any roasted meat, a good rest before serving in mandatory !
All those lovely juices left in the tray, should never go to waste ! Cut up some potatoes ( and sweet potatoes if you like them ), season them and lay them on the baking tray. Cover with tin foil and cook ( in a 180 oven ) until tender. Remove the foil and bake a little longer until golden crispy and utterly irresistible ! ( if you’re in a pinch, you can put them under the oven’s grill at the highest setting for a quick browning )
Stefanos’s Villa, Alico, is favourite with lots of Peligoni guests. It sleeps 6 and is close to The Club. For more details click here.