When we first started living together, my (now) husband declared that on Sundays he'd cook a roast. It was a nice idea in theory, but to be honest it didn't really stick. Not that I mind; having a Sunday roast just once a month somehow makes it more meaningful anyway (also, at about the same time I said I would clean the chicken coop, but that's another story). As much as I love a good old-fashioned roast chook, this Greek lamb with (rather glorious) lemony potatoes is difficult to beat - the lamb cooks long and slow until it's almost falling apart, and it makes the whole house smell wonderful. I've made this so many times that I don't follow a recipe anymore, though it must be said that it came from Tessa Kiros' wonderful 'Falling Cloudberries', and I've turned the volume up: more lemon, more oregano and of course, more potatoes!
Greek Lamb with Oregano, Lemon and Potatoes
1.2 - 1.5 kg bone-in leg of lamb
Juice of 2 - 3 lemons (approximately 150ml)
1.5 - 2 tablespoons dried oregano (Greek or Sicilian if possible)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
40ml extra virgin olive oil
60g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 - 1.5 kilos waxy potatoes (such as Nicola), peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
Preheat oven to 210C. Rinse lamb and place it into a large baking dish. Pour over lemon juice and season generously with oregano, sea salt and black pepper. Dot with butter, pour about a cup (250ml) water around the lamb, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 15-30 minutes on each side till browned all over.
Toss the potatoes in the baking dish with the lamb to coat in the liquid. Season again with salt, pepper and oregano. Reduce the heat to 170C, cover with foil and bake for 2-2.5 hours, turning occasionally and adding a little more water if necessary. Depending how brown the lamb is, you may wish to remove the foil for the last half hour.
Serve on a big platter (or straight out of the baking dish) with tzatziki and a village salad or steamed greens.
C(h)ook's notes -
- I usually ask my butcher for a "shank off" leg of lamb - it means there is more space in the baking dish for potatoes
- If the lamb is excessively fatty, trim a little of the fat after rinsing
- I prefer waxy potatoes for this, but use any that are suitable for roasting
- I wouldn't dream of serving this without tzatziki which I suppose you could buy, but in case you need a recipe...
Coarsely grate two Lebanese cucumbers into a colander and sprinkle with sea salt. Drain for at least an hour, then squeeze between your hands or press with a spoon to remove excess water. Combine with one cup of strained natural yoghurt, juice of half a lemon, one crushed garlic clove, and some chopped fresh mint (optional). Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt, to taste.