Lamb Kleftiko

A Classic Greek dish.  Legend has it this was a dish created by theives who would steal the meat and then cook it in an underground oven without vents so the steam would not rise and attract attention.


1 boned shoulder of lamb (about 1.5kg)
150ml extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, cut into slivers
3 tbsp roughly chopped oregano or rosemary
Juice of 1 large lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to its highest setting.

Heat 50ml of the oil in a large, heavy frying pan over a medium heat. Add the lamb and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and drain on several layers of kitchen paper.

Cut 3 pieces of baking parchment, each about 1 metre long. Place one on top of the other, fold all in half widthways and crease down the centre, then open up. Lay the paper in a roasting tray, with one half on the base of the tray and the other half hanging over the edge.

Place the lamb on to the paper. Poke holes in the lamb with the tip of a sharp knife and push in the garlic slivers, sprinkle the herbs, the lemon juice and the remaining olive oil over it and season. Bring the second half of the paper over the meat and fold over the edges to seal the lamb inside.

Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, gas mark 4 and roast for a further 40 minutes per kilo of meat. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 30 minutes. Cut the parcel open, carve the lamb and serve with its juices, and roast potatoes.

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