Lamb kleftiko

Lamb kleftiko

The Islands of Greece
Steven Joyce

Legend has it that this dish came into being in the nineteenth century, when groups of revolutionaries hiding in the hills would cook meat (sometimes stolen) buried underground so that no smoke or steam would escape and give them away. You can make this with bone-in meat, but it will need a longer, slower cook. For a lighter version, omit the potatoes or cheese, but this is a great one-pot recipe if you do include them. You can also swap the lamb for pork.


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to cook
600g boneless lamb shoulder, leg or shank, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 onion, finely sliced
6 garlic cloves
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
2 large white potatoes, cut into chunks
80g hard goats’ cheese or greek manouri cheese, cut into small chunks
1 sprig rosemary leaves
4 sprigs thyme, broken into short lengths
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon roughly chopped parsley leaves
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Have ready a large metal roasting dish, on to which you’ve placed 2 long sheets of baking paper, crossed over to form an ‘X’ shape.
  2. In a large wide pan, heat a little olive oil and brown the lamb all over, in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl. Brown the onion over a high heat with a bit more oil in the same pan. Tip in with the lamb. Add all the other ingredients to the bowl (except the 3 tablespoons of olive oil), season generously and toss gently to ensure everything is coated and the herbs and cheese are well distributed.
  3. Pour the whole lot on to the centre of the double layer of baking paper. Fold the edges upwards to ensure no liquid can escape and pour in the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of water. Working with top layer of paper first, bring the two overhanging edges together and fold them in on themselves, using small folds, until you have folded down to the lamb. Then do the same with the second layer of paper, to form a really good seal so no steam can escape.
  4. Cook for 1½ hours. Let the lamb rest in its parcel, out of the oven, for a further 15 minutes. Bring to the table still wrapped and open to release the cloud of fragrant steam at the table.
The Islands of Greece
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again