Happy Easter! Gold-encrusted, Greek, Super-slow-cooked Lamb
15% of 16-24 year olds in the UK don’t know that lamb comes from sheep.Rowse/Daily Mirror survey
The main problem with this dish is that you have to remember to put it in the oven! I once forgot on Easter Saturday evening to put the meat in for Easter Sunday lunch and we ended up having to eat it for lunch on Easter Monday. On another occasion I forgot to put the meat in again and I had to cook it for four hours in a temperature of 180ºC – it was still alright.
It’s pretty elastic in terms of time in fact – rather than cooking it for 16 hours, it seems fine even after 24 (in fact, the best version of this was achieved for Easter 2022 with a 26 hour lamb). If you want to serve it for dinner you can put it in the oven just before you go to bed the previous day.
The meat is cooked very slowly (perfect for an Aga owner) which makes it melt-in-the-mouth tender, and the yoghurt keeps in the flavour and the juices. It also contributes to the fantastic gravy.
Serve with my son’s perfect roast potatoes (or lentils) and broccoli. Or alternatively with potatoes with preserved lemons, artichokes and carrots.
Or alternatively, if you don’t fancy all that peeling, you can go for kritharaki (a type of Greek macaroni pasta) or orzo pasta and a sort-of Greek or a spring vegetable salad. The kritharaki cooks in the roasting tin along with the lamb. It soaks up all the juices of the lamb – and reduces the washing up – can’t be bad!
Serve with red currant jelly (not very Greek), and some good gravy made with the juices in the roasting tin – deglaze with red vermouth, bit of tomato paste, some rosemary…. the usual.
Recipe for gold-encrusted, Greek, super-slow-cooked lamb
- 2.5 kg/5½ lb shoulder of lamb
- 40g fresh dill, chopped, or more if you are going to cook for longer
- 1 kg/2lbs greek yoghurt, or more if you are going to cook for longer
- About twenty hours before you aim to eat, preheat the oven to 150ºC (for Aga owners, use the top left).
- Mix the dill with the yoghurt.
- Put the meat flesh-side down in a big roasting tray.
- Cover the meat with a layer of yoghurt about half an inch thick.
- A couple of hours later, when the yoghurt has become light brown and a little bit crusty, put on another layer of yoghurt, and keep on doing this – not overnight obviously. Before you go to bed you might want to make sure the layer of yoghurt is fresh.
- Towards the end of the cooking you may need to increase the temperature (or move the lamb to the baking/bottom right oven) to get the yoghurt to turn a deep golden brown, BUT KEEP A GOOD EYE ON IT – YOU DON’T WANT IT TO BURN!
- Leave to rest while you make some completely delicious gravy by adding whatever wine you have to hand (marsala is good – or Waitrose mulled wine), handfuls of Herbes de Provence, tomato paste….
- Make sure each eater has a bit of the slightly hardened yoghurt crust.