The very best traditional Greek lamb kleftiko recipe (Greek lamb wrapped in parchment paper)! Juicy and tender, melt-in-the-mouth lamb kleftiko with fluffy potatoes and a delicious white wine sauce, infused with the aromas of garlic, sweet onions, roast peppers and juicy tomatoes.. Simply irresistible!
Lamb kleftiko is a rustic, traditional Greek recipe made with slow cooked lamb, first marinated in garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. This traditional recipe was originally cooked in an earth oven, a simple pit in the ground, used to trap heat and smoke. Lamb ‘kleftiko’ literally means lamb ‘stolen’. This name is said to originate from the Klephts who would steal lamb or goats and cook the meat in hidden underground ovens in order to seal the flavors and smells and avoid being caught!
Nowadays lamb Kleftiko is baked sealed, wrapped in parchment paper (in parcels or pouches) to keep all the juices and flavors inside (see also the preparation photos below). For this Greek lamb kleftiko recipe I always prefer using a leg of lamb, which when slow cooked becomes super tender! You could either use the leg whole, which will require some extra cooking time, or ask your butcher to cut it into large, bone-in pieces. Although a lot of lamb kleftiko recipes don’t add the potatoes in the same pouch with the lamb, I strongy recomment doing so for them to soak up all the delicious lamb juices! Marinating the lamb kleftiko for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, is essential to allow the meat to absorb all the wonderful Mediterranean flavours and aromas. The secret step to the perfect lamb kleftiko is to unwrap the parchment paper right before its fully done, turn the heat up and bake a little longer to get the lamb and the potatoes nicely coloured and crispy on the outside. Finally don’t forget the all important salad! This earthy dish is best paired with a refreshing Greek feta salad which cuts into the meaty lamb flavor and will further enrich this traditional dish with the aromas of oregano and feta!
If you are not too keen on Lamb, a very popular variation of this lamb kleftiko is ‘pork kleftiko or exohiko’, so if you fancy experimenting you can give this one a try too! So go ahead, prepare this traditional Greek lamb kleftiko recipe for your friends and family and impress them with this delicious hearty, traditional family dinner! Enjoy!
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