We LOVE this in our house! We first had Kleftiko on a trip to Kefalonia many moons ago and as soon as we got home I set about working on my own version. Kleftiko is a traditional Greek lamb dish, slow cooked with herbs, tomatoes and potatoes. It is garlicky, tangy, rich heaven on a plate. Every restaurant we have been to on various trips to Greece seems to have their own version of this. And the more I googled it, the more variations I found. So this is my very own hybrid, slightly quicker and easier version. In my humble opinion, it’s the coating of the lamb with the garlic that really makes this amazing, so don’t forget that part whatever you do! It does contain feta cheese, so is not lactose free as such, but many lactose-phobes like myself can tolerate sheep’s or goat’s milk cheeses as they don’t contain Casein, also known as A1 protein, which is found in cow’s milk. Casein is the guilty party that can make cow’s milk hard to digest.
This Kleftiko can also be made in individual baking paper parcels for a twist on the presentation, or if you want to make it in smaller quantities for 1 or 2 rather than making a big pot. It can be made more traditionally with a whole shoulder of lamb. Mmmm…. And if you want a lighter midweek or paleo meal, I often omit the potatoes and use an extra courgette. I’m sure you could also easily make this in a slow cooker, just omit the stock.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
4 shoulder or lamb leg steaks (ideally organic)
4 large carrots
2-3 large waxy potatoes
1 red onion
1 tin tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp mint
100ml stock/bone broth/water
extra Virgin olive oil
1/2 pack feta cheese
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Rub your lamb steaks with crushed garlic and set aside.
2. Oil casserole dish. Slice potatoes thinly and layer half at bottom of dish. Season with salt and pepper. Slice carrots and place half quantity on top of potatoes. Slice onion into thin rings and place on top.
3. Place garlicky lamb on top of onions, add half of herbs and cinnamon and season.
4. Cover lamb with rest of carrots and then potatoes. Add sliced courgette on top.
5. Pour over tinned tomatoes and stock. Season with salt and pepper again. Crumble over 3/4 of feta and rest of herbs and spice. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake, covered, for about 1 hour until vegetables are tender. The longer you cook it, the tastier it will be. I often turn the oven down to 140 and cook for an extra hour with the lid off so the sauce thickens up.
Serve with green or roast vegetables, and sprinkle the remainder of the feta on top for extra tang and presentation brownie points. Drink lots of red wine alongside.