This doesn’t photograph so well, you can see that, but don’t judge a book by it’s cover, it tastes amazing! 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!
This 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. There is a helpul blurb about cheese for the lactose intolerant here This will also still taste delicious if you don’t want to use the feta, just add an extra squeeze of lemon for additional tanginess.
This Kleftiko can also be made in individual baking paper parcels for a 30 minute midweek version. Making it in parcels is also a nice twist on the presentation and means you can make smaller quantities for 1 or 2 rather than making a big pot. SCROLL DOWN TO END FOR METHOD.
It can also be made more traditionally with a whole shoulder of lamb, which makes for a gorgeous Sunday Roast. Mmmm…. And if you want a lighter or paleo meal, I often omit the potatoes and use an extra courgette, or some sliced, fried aubergine. 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)
2 large potatoes
2 red onions
1 tin chopped or plum tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp mint (fresh or dried)
2 bay leaves
100ml stock/bone broth/water
Extra Virgin olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 pack feta cheese
1. Preheat oven to 180C (170 fan). Rub your lamb steaks with crushed garlic and set aside.
2. Oil casserole dish. Slice potatoes thinly and layer at bottom of dish. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of the herbs and spices. Slice carrots and place on top of potatoes. Slice onions into thin rings and layer on top. Pour stock over.
3. Place garlicky lamb on top of onions, add another pinch of herbs and cinnamon, drizzle with EVOO and a squeeze of lemon.
4. Pour over tinned tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over remainder of herbs and cinnamon. Crumble over 3/4 of feta. Slice courgette into 1cm thick rounds and layer on top.
5. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours or until pots and carrots are tender. If a lot of liquid remains, cook without the lid for a further 20 mins; the longer you cook it, the tastier it will be. I often turn the oven down to 140C and cook for an extra hour with the lid off so the sauce really 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.
QUICKER AND LIGHTER OPTION: If making individual portions in parchment paper, lay carrots and onions in middle of a large square of parchment. Lay garlicky lamb on top, cover with a few spoonfuls of chopped toms, herbs, spices and feta. Top with courgette. Fold sides together to form a parcel and bake for 30 mins.