Without question, the Greeks know how to cook a good lamb dish. For my cousins wedding on the island of Rhodes in 2013, my good friend Nikos’ mamma cooked us up what must have been the best part of a whole lamb to celebrate the occasion. It had been slow cooked (even by Greek estimations it was slooow) for three whole days before being carefully transported to Flyers beach bar for all the guests to devour. Wow, the meat simply slid off the bone and without a doubt, I think I would rate it as the best food I have ever tasted in my whole entire life – and for a food lover such as myself that is quite a statement.
The thing that was so amazing about mamma’s dish, is that there were so few ingredients incorporated. Of course, I cannot tell you the recipe as I know full well that they don’t go outside of the family and I would have to be killed if I ever got hold of it. However, I do know that slow cooking makes even the cheapest cuts of meat taste divine, and that I would put my bets on the fact that mamma may have sneaked a little dribble of the old red wine in the casserole dish – which it has to mentioned was also cooked in the stone oven in the oldest house in the whole of Lindos.
This dish was made in my, shall we say, fairly newer electric oven, and slow cooked for nearly three and a half hours on a very low heat to soak up all of the juices and flavours of the Mediterranean. I served the meat alongside roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes, drizzled in the delicious Greek olive oil that I only ever get out for special dishes, as well as minted rice as I found this to be a very popular side dish in many tavernas.
Best part of all is, the olive oil and oregano had travelled all the way from Siana in the Rhodian mountains where Nikos’ Uncle George lives. George of course speaks not a word of English, but can remember my name as being Sophia and is generally in hysterics at everything going on as we try to communicate. If you ever visit Siana, George will no doubt be sat outside the little café playing backgammon and sipping on the lethal souma – whatever you do don’t tackle the mountainous roads back home after being persuaded to down a few with the Greeks. Yammas!
- Lamb breast
- 1 red pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 onion chopped
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1 gluten free chicken stock cube
- 300 ml red wine
- Salt and pepper
- New potatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- Fresh mint chopped
- Rice (optional) sprinkled with mint and drizzled with olive oil from potato tray.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
- Heat some sunflower oil in a large frying pan and brown the lamb joint. Transfer to a casserole dish.
- Chop the red pepper and onion into chunks and transfer to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the dried oregano, garlic granules and the crumbled stock cube.
- Pour over the red wine, chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper before pouring over the lamb breast
- Cut the lemons in half and add them to the lamb and cook in the oven for around 3 and half hours until tender.
- Cut the new potatoes in half and bring to the boil for a couple of minutes.
- Drain the water and add the grated garlic clove, sprinkle with rosemary and drizzle with olive oil before giving them a good shake.
- Transfer the potatoes to the oven to cook for around half an hour until golden and crispy.
- If making rice, add some chopped, fresh mint at the end and drizzle the olive oil from the potato tray over the top to produce a succulent and refreshing side dish.