Greek Easter: Red Painted Eggs, Oven Roasted Potatoes and Succulent Lamb

Baked Dish, Greek, Meat, Potato, Special Occasion

Greek Easter

Hi Fran!

It’s been a while since my last post, and I do apologize for that, but life has been keeping me busy! I’ve been fortunate to be traveling a lot lately, getting to taste fine delicacies from many new places: Peru, Colombia and Russia! But this post is about food from my motherland: Greece.

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Although this year we weren’t able to go back to Greece to celebrate the all important Easter holiday with my family, we did manage to put together quite an impressive spread to share with our close friends last Sunday. As you know, and my new friends are getting to understand, Greek Easter is a very big deal, it is a major holiday for us that cannot go by unnoticed. It is the one time of the year, when nearly all Greeks across the world actually go to church, and gather with our families to enjoy (and indulge) in epic feasts of lamb, meat and other rich foods year after year, following the breaking of the 40 day lenten fast. IMG_1498

Basics for getting Greek Easter right:

  • Tsoureki: (I will not be sharing a recipe as I have yet to succeed in preparing this, see my post 3 years ago!!) this is a sweet bread which is similar to the Jewish challah, and french brioche, it is rich and elastic in consistency and fragrant, thanks to mastiha and mahlepi.
  • Red dyed eggs: (again, as per above, learned that I need the artificial colouring)
  • Wine: plenty of it
  • Roasted Lamb: Ideally it should be roasted on the spit, I opted for the more international-friendly slow roast melt-off-the-bone version (YUMMM)
  • Roasted lemon thyme potatoes
  • Pita: This can be any type of pie your heart desires (tiropita – cheese pie, spanakopita – spinach pie, kolokithopita – zucchini pie)
  • Sausages & other heavy meats

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Oven Roasted Lemon Potatoes (Patates Fournou)

My method of preparing potatoes deviates from the traditional method of roasting them raw. But my way ensures all the potatoes are crisp on the outside and fluffy and creamy on the inside. If you are not having vegetarian friends over, and also plan to cook the below lamb recipe, you can cook them together, placing the lamb directly on top of the potatoes, as you will notice the spicing is the same. Also, the zaatar which I used, instead of the thyme, adds such a nice and slightly sharp note to these rich potatoes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 kg potatoes (any type you like small or large)
  • 2 lemons’ juice
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp thyme (I used zaatar)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash potatoes thoroughly scrubbing, ensuring you remove any dark spots. Place them all in a large pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook the potatoes in boiling water, until cooked through.
  2. Preheat oven to a medium temperature, 180˚ C or 350˚F.
  3. Drain water and let potatoes cool, until you are able to handle them without burning yourself. If using large potatoes cut into big cubes (4-6 per potato), if you are using small ones – crush them slightly with a fork until the skin bursts slightly and leave them whole.
  4. Place them in a large baking dish, add the lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, thyme (or zaatar), garlic powder, salt & pepper. Very gently toss the potatoes in the dressing to lightly cover all the potatoes. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, gently tossing half way through, so that all your potatoes are lovely golden brown.

 

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Succulent Oven Roasted Lamb (Arnaki Sto Fourno)

This lamb does need some time to cook, but the slow roasting ensures the lamb is cooked through, but leaves you with a melt of the bone type of texture which is simply divine. Also, as with the potatoes, the zaatar which I used, instead of the thyme, adds subtle but great zing to the rich and bold flavour of the lamb.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 kg lamb (leg or shoulder)
  • 2 lemons’ juice
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed and minced)
  • 1 tbsp rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp thyme (I used zaatar)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 220˚C or 425˚F.
  2. Pat the lamb down with paper towels, removing as much surface moisture as possible, to ensure you end up with a crispy skin. With a small but sharp knife, poke deep holes into the lamb (about 5-7 cm apart). Place on a large oven pan covered in foil(to make cleaning easier later on :))
  3. Now starts the massaging part. Starting with salt and pepper, then with garlic, then with lemon juice, take turns massaging each into the lamb to infuse as much flavour as possible. Then sprinkle the rosemary leaves, thyme (or zaatar), and garlic powder.
  4. Place in the hot oven, and bake for 20 minutes, take out of the oven, turn over and bake for another 20 minutes.
  5. Turn the oven down to a medium low oven (170˚C or 325˚F) and slow bake for 4 more hours, this will make your lamb melt in your mouth and juicy. Make sure you turn the lamb every 40 minutes, for even roasting.
  6. When down, take out of the oven, cover in foil to keep warm and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before digging in.

You really should not wait for Easter to try this out, trust me.  ENJOY!!!

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One thought on “Greek Easter: Red Painted Eggs, Oven Roasted Potatoes and Succulent Lamb

  1. These look amazing Mati! Greek food is something I love and want to learn more how to make. I don’t make a lot of lamb, but this looks delicious! Cannot wait to try it!

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