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Kleftiko, also known as lamb in parchment, is a traditional Greek dish that originated on the island of Crete. It is a slow-cooked, tender and flavourful dish that is traditionally baked in an oven or cooked in a sealed pit underground. Kleftiko is made with lamb shoulder, which is marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic, and herbs, and then wrapped in parchment paper or aluminium foil.
The dish gets its name from the word “kleftis,” which means thief in Greek. Legend has it that Cretan bandits, known as kleftes, would steal sheep from local farmers and cook them in underground pits to avoid detection. The method of cooking in a sealed parchment or foil packet is said to mimic the technique used by these bandits to keep their cooking smokeless and undetectable.
The slow cooking process allows the lamb to become incredibly tender and infused with the flavours of the marinade. The parchment or foil packet keeps the lamb moist and allows the flavours to intensify. The result is a succulent and savoury dish that is sure to impress.
Kleftiko is often served with traditional Greek sides like roasted potatoes, Greek salad, or tzatziki sauce. It is a perfect dish for a special occasion or a cosy family dinner. If you’re looking to bring a taste of Greece to your home, Kleftiko is a dish that is sure to impress your guests.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion, garlic, herbs, wine, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Season the lamb with salt and pepper, and add it to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Toss everything together to coat the lamb well.
- Place the lamb and the marinade in a large sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fold and crimp the edges to create a sealed packet.
- Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 3-4 hours, or until the lamb is very tender and falls apart easily.
- To serve, open the packet and transfer the lamb to a platter. Spoon some of the pan juices over the lamb and garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedges.
You can serve this dish with a side of roasted potatoes or a simple Greek salad. Enjoy your delicious Kleftiko lamb!
2 lbs (0.9kg) lamb shoulder, bone-in
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
125 ml dry white wine
65ml olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Parchment paper or aluminium foil
Lemon wedges and chopped fresh parsley, for garnish