Neither quick to make, nor just a few ingredients, but if you’re looking for something to knock the socks of your dinner guests, this Greek Lamb Kleftiko recipe delivers on both taste and presentation. To put it simply, kleftiko is a traditional Greek dish of slow-roasted lamb cooked in parchment with potatoes and vegetables. This meal is the ultimate in one-pot cooking.
This foolproof method will give you perfectly tender lamb every time. The secret to succulent lamb and tender vegetables is cooking everything wrapped in parchment paper. And to make it even easier, use boneless leg of lamb. You could also make this in a large braising pot with a sheet of parchment across the pot under the lid.
Why cook in parchment? Not only does parchment protect your pan and for easy clean-up, but when you envelop meat in parchment paper before roasting, it traps the heat and moisture, creating a steam pocket that helps the meat cook gently from the inside. The result is meltingly tender lamb that is never dry!
Kleftiko (Greek Lamb Cooked in Parchment)
- 1 boneless leg of lamb, about 3 ½ lbs., trimmed of excess fat
- 2 ½ Tbsp. dried oregano, divided
- 1 Tbsp. dried thyme, divided
- 1 Tbsp. dried parsley, divided (or dried marjoram)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 10 garlic cloves, minced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- ½ cup white wine
- Extra virgin olive oil, I used Greek Private Reserve EVOO
- 4 to 5 large Russet potatoes, about 3 lbs., peeled and quartered
- 2 large sweet bell peppers, cored and cut into large chunks
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
- 1 large red onion, cut into large chunks
- ½ cup vegetable or beef broth
- 4 oz. feta cheese, cut into blocks, optional
- Season and marinate the lamb. Place the boneless leg of lamb in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife, make a few slits in the boneless leg of lamb. Rub the lamb all over with 2 tablespoons dried oregano and ½ tablespoon each dried thyme and dried parsley. Season well with kosher salt and black pepper on all sides. Then rub with the mustard and the majority of the garlic (reserving 1 tablespoon of the garlic for the vegetables). It’s important to push some of the garlic and seasoning into the slits you’ve cut earlier for best flavor.
- Transfer the lamb to a large bowl and add the lemon juice, white wine, red wine vinegar, and about ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, turning the lamb in the bowl to make sure it is well coated. Set the lamb aside for a few minutes while working on the vegetables. (But if you do have the time, cover the bowl and refrigerate for 4-6 hours).
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. And position a rack in the middle.
- Prepare the roasting pan and parchment paper. Line a large roasting pan with two very large pieces of parchment paper, making a cross shape so that you have long pieces of parchment overhang on all sides of the pan (about 12 inches of parchment overhang on all sides of the pan).
- Assemble the vegetables and lamb in the pan. Spread the potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions in the bottom of the pan over the parchment. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper and the remainder of the dried oregano, thyme, and parsley. Sprinkle the remainder of the garlic on top and drizzle with a little olive oil. Add the lamb on top of the vegetables and pour the broth in from the side of the pan.
- Fold the parchment to cover the lamb and vegetables. Pull parchment paper sides together and tightly crimp them up to fully encase the lamb and vegetables in the parchment parcel.
- Roast. Place the roasting pan on the center rack of your heated oven and cook for about 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours or until the meat is tender and falls apart easily at the touch of your fork (you can check partway through and add more broth or water, if needed).
- Brown. Uncover the meat and veggies and fold excess parchment paper into the inside of the pan. If using, add the feta cheese at this point. Raise the heat to 425°F and return the pan to the oven (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes until the lamb and vegetables gain some color.
- Let rest. Once ready, allow the lamb kleftiko to sit for about 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
- Serve. Pull the meat apart using two forks to shred. Serve the lamb in bowls over the vegetables.
Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadsheh