Tag Archives: Lamb and mutton

Lamb Kleftiko – so delicious!

7 Jun

DSCI0292I had no idea there were so many recipes for this wonderful Greek lamb dish.  I remember first eating Lamb Kleftiko in Hersonissos old village, in the square, on a balmy summer night.  Absolute heaven.  I have loved this dish ever since but this is the first time I have made it.

There are so many ways of preparing this dish. Traditionally it is baked in the oven, wrapped in paper.  Apparently, kleftiko means stolen meat and, legend has it, that bandits would steal lambs while found grazing on the hillside then cook them for hours buried deep in sealed pits so that the smoke would not attract attention.  Many Greeks continue this legend, not by stealing lambs of course, but by sealing the lamb in a parcel and cooking it low and slow in the oven until the meat is so tender it literally falls off the bones and the potatoes cooked with it have soaked up all the meaty juices, flavoured with garlic, lemon and herbs.  Delicious!  Some cooks replace the parcel with a dish and seal the top of the dish with a dough before cooking in the oven. Many restaurants, however, now cook and serve Lamb Kleftiko in individual casserole dishes.  Whichever way it is cooked the outcome is similar as it is the long, slow cooking that is key.

This recipe is unbelievably simple. Just mix all the ingredients together then leave the oven to do all the work for a couple of hours.  I chose the recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes book, adapted slightly.  He based his recipe on one from Andy Harris’s book, Modern Greece, who is a friend of his and has lived in Greece for eleven years before moving to Australia.

Here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it.

Lamb k                                                                       Serves 3 – 4

  • 1/2 leg of lamb weighing about 1 kg/2 lbs, bone left in
  • 1 kg Desiree potatoes, or any waxy main crop, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 head of garlic, left in one piece, unpeeled but outer papery skin removed
  • 1 heaped tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano or marjoram
  • olive oil
  • juice if 1 lemon
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.
  2. Put the meat, potatoes and garlic in a lidded casserole dish or skillet. Sprinkle over the dried herbs then add the fresh oregano, lemon juice, about 50 ml of water and a few good glugs of olive oil.  Season well then mix together well with your hands.
  3. Place a sheet of foil over the casserole and then cover with the lid so it is sealed well and bake for 2 – 3 hours until the meat is falling off the bone. Check half way through and add a little more water if necessary.
  4. Serve the lamb and potatoes with a salad of cucumber, tomatoes and sliced red onion, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil

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Spring lamb and vegetables – one pot meal just as I like them!

1 Dec

Here is another one pot meal, great for when you are busy, just leave it in the oven to take care of itself!  I love lamb, especially when it is falling off the bones and is meltingly tender.  My husband, however, hates fat so I have to be really careful when I choose the cut of meat.  As this is cooked slowly in the oven I needed a tougher cut of meat so I finally chose lamb shanks.  I can remember when you could buy a lamb shank for about a pound.  That was before the TV Cooks made it popular.  Now they sell for about £4 each!

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the various cuts of lamb and how they should be cooked.

Lamb Primal Cuts: Leg, Loin, Rib, Breast and More

  • For roasts, the best cuts include leg, breast, best end of neck (also known as rack of lamb), shoulder, saddle, rump and loin.  
  • For quick cooking, choose fillet, chump chops, loin chops, leg steaks, best end cutlets and butterflied leg.
  • For slow cooking, leg, shoulder, shank, neck and chump chops are among the best options.
  • Lamb is also available minced (good for pies and burgers) and you can also buy lamb offal (mainly the kidneys and liver but also, less commonly, the heart and the sweetbreads), which is quick to cook, cheap and nutritious.
  • When choosing any cut of lamb, look for firm, fine-grained meat with a velvety texture; it should be moist, rather than dry or slimy. Any fat on the outside of the lamb should be white (fat that is yellow might well be rancid). Properly hung lamb should have a deep red, rather than bright red colour, although very young lamb will be paler than older lamb.

Here is the recipe.  It is based on one I found in a Good Food Magazine that I have adapted to suit our tastes.  Here is a link to their website if you want to see the original recipe.


Spring lamb and vegetable one-pot                                     Serves 2

  • Olive oil
  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and halved
  • 200g new potatoes, peeled and left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sprig thyme
  • 75g frozen peas
  • handful Dwarf Beans, topped and tailed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 lamb stock cube
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 3.
  2. Dry the lamb shanks on kitchen paper.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle a little olive oil into a skillet or heat proof shallow casserole.  Brown the shanks on all sides over a high heat. 
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic and carrots and cook for a few minutes.  Add the carrots and cook for a few minutes more. 
  4. Pour in sufficient water to come half way up the shanks.  Crumble in the stock cube.  Add the herbs and the potatoes and bring to the boil.  Cover and transfer to the oven for 1.5 hours or until the lamb is tender and the vegetables are cooked.  Remove from oven.
  5. Blanch the beans in boiling water for 4 minutes.  Drain and add to the lamb and vegetables with the peas.  Return to the oven for 10 minutes or until everything has heated through.  Serve.

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Lamb and Plum curry – fit for a queen!

23 Nov

My husband says this is his favourite curry.  I reminded him of how many times I had heard him say this but he stuck to his guns.  Just to prove a point, however, there are a couple of links below to previous curries he has said this about! 

When I first saw the recipe for this curry I was intrigued.  I had never heard of a similar curry before and have yet to see anything like it in an Indian Restaurant.  It is a dish from Hyderabadi and is, apparently, a speciality of the Veeraswamy restaurant in London, the owner of which had a grandmother who was a Hyderabadi princess. Veeraswamy is the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in the U.K, and possibly the world. Established in 1926, it is one of London’s oldest surviving restaurants and a global restaurant institution.   I found this recipe in a little book called ’50 great curries of India’ by Camellia Panjabi.  It is one of the best curry books I have ever had and I am slowly, but surely working through the recipes.  So far there is only one that I was disappointed in but that was vegetarian so no great loss to us confirmed carnivores!  I have copied the recipe exactly from the book as I can’t think of anyway I would want to change it.  Be careful with the chillies though.  Check out how hot your fresh chillies are and maybe use just 1 teaspoon of chilli powder, unless you like your curries really hot.

Lamb and Plum Curry                                                         Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 x 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless stewing lamb
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plums with skin (half finely chopped and half cut into wedges)
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 8 fl. oz. stock of lamb bones if possible (use plain water if not)
  1. In a deep skillet, heat the oil and fry the onions until they are golden and starting to brown at the edges (this should take about 10-15 minutes).  Add the garlic, ginger, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, and green chilies.  After 1 minute, add the turmeric, coriander, and chili powders.  Stir well.
  2. Add the lamb and salt and stir fry in the spice mixture for 5 minutes.  Then cover and cook the lamb in its own moisture with the onions on a medium heat for about 10 minutes.  When the lamb is semi-dry, stir continuously until it is coated with the spices and the mixture is golden brown.
  3. Now add the finely chopped plums and cook with the lamb, stirring a few times.  Add 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro leaves and the lamb stock or plain water, bring to a boil and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.  Now add the plum wedges and cook until the lamb is done.  Put in a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of fresh leaves.

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Yorkshire puddings with lamb and onions – almost a meal in one!

20 Mar

Yorkshire puddings are so versatile.  I love Toad-in-the-hole and I remember having them smothered with jam for a dessert when I was young.  This recipe is taken from the idea of  Toad-in-the-hole but instead of sausages, uses lamb chops.  I have been surrounding my lamb chops roasting in the oven with a batter mix for years.  The juices from the meat give the batter a fantastic flavour and I absolutely love the crunchy bits, making sure I scrape every last one from the bottom of the dish.  Some time ago I made a Toad-in-the-hole which had used onions as well as sausages .  The result was fantastic.  I thought I would try the idea with the lamb chops and I was pleasantly surprised with the results.  I hope you give it a try.

I’ve always been a little confused about the different terminology for meat from a sheep so I took a look on Wikipedia and was amazed at how many classification there were.  Below is some information from their page.

The strict definitions for lamb, hogget and mutton vary considerably between countries. In New Zealand for example, they are defined as follows:

  • Lamb — a young sheep under 12 months of age which does not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear
  • Hogget — a sheep of either sex having no more than two permanent incisors in wear
  • Mutton — a female (ewe) or castrated male (wether) sheep having more than two permanent incisors in wear.

Younger lambs are smaller and more tender. Mutton is meat from a sheep over two years old, and has a less tender flesh. In general, the darker the colour, the older the animal. Baby lamb meat will be pale pink, while regular lamb is pinkish-red.

Other definitions include:

  • Lamb — a young sheep that is less than one year old
  • Baby lamb — a milk-fed lamb between six and eight weeks old
  • Spring lamb — a milk-fed lamb, usually three to five months old, born in late winter or early spring and sold usually before July 1
  • Yearling lamb — a young sheep between 12 and 24 months old.
  • Salt marsh lamb  — the meat of sheep which graze on salt marsh in coastal estuaries that are washed by the tides and support a range of salt-tolerant grasses and herbs such as sampfire, sorrel and sea lavender. Depending on where in the world the salt marsh is located, the nature of the plants may be subtly different.  Places where salt marsh lamb are reared in the UK include Harlech and the Gower Peninsular in Wales, the Somerset Levels and Morecombe Bay.

Well here is the recipe.

Yorkshire pudding with lamb and onions                   Serves 2 (easily doubled)

  • 4 lamb chops
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g/4 oz plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 250 ml/1/2 pt semi skimmed milk
  1. Heat oven to 220c/200c fan/gas 7.
  2. First make the batter.  Sift the flour into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat in the eggs and then sufficient milk to make a smooth batter that is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Chill in the fridge until needed.
  3. Arrange the lamb chops and onion wedges in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with the oil.  Roast for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and then quickly pour in the batter.  Return to the oven and cook for 35 minutes or until the batter is risen and a golden brown. 

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