This famous dish of lamb and potatoes, seasoned with bay leaves and oregano, has an interesting back-story as well as being hearty and delicious.
The name means ‘stolen’ in Greek and, according to the Cyprus Food Museum, is thought to date back centuries when a sheep or goat that had been stolen from its flock would be cooked for several hours in a hole in the ground – sealed with mud – so that no tell-tale smoke would give the thieves away.
Although lamb or kid is mainly used for this recipe today, for a truly authentic Kleftiko, a goat (preferably three years old) is used instead. The prolonged cooking time in a well-sealed traditional clay oven, turns the usually sinewy meat into a tender dish that you could not achieve with conventional cooking.
3 pieces of lamb leg,
1cup olive oil
Oregano Place the lamb in a large bowl with the herbs and olive oil and mix well. (This is best done the day before)
Cut 3 pieces of greaseproof paper, large enough to cover each piece of meat. Wrap each piece securely (like an envelope) and place in a clay cooking pot and bake at 200°C for 3 hours. When ready, serve on a platter still wrapped in paper.