It was a conspiracy of circumstances which produced today’s kleftiko-style Greek lamb: a raw joint of meat on the kitchen counter, a nostalgia for Greece brought on by poor weather, and a quantity of surplus-to-requirements firewood. All those, and two men armed and dangerous with a chainsaw…
I prepared a base of fragrant herbs and other kleftiko essentials – thyme, oregano and rosemary grown from Greek stock and picked fresh from the garden, a couple of sliced onions, two chopped-up lemons, bay leaves, whole garlic cloves and sea-salt extracted from Aegean seawater.
Next, a layer of potatoes were laid on the flavourings, salted and doused in olive oil.
Then came the lamb, which was wrapped with the potatoes in several layers of foil before being encased in a ‘basket’ of chicken-wire.
When the fire was reduced to (very hot!) charcoal and ash, the men raked a crater in the centre and laid in the meat before covering it with bricks heated in the embers. Ash and hot charcoal was shovelled on top, burying the Sunday roast.
Wind direction was calculated, fingers were stuck in the air and a decision was taken that three hours was about the right cooking time.
Looks excellent, doesn’t it? And it was!
And look what I found to go with it – a chilled bottle of Chania retsina!
Author of the Mysteries of the Greek Detective, books with a touch of mythology set in almost-contemporary Greece, and featuring lots of fabulous Greek food.