Recipe: Greek Easter Lamb
I love traditions. Like returning to the same beach every summer, slinking into comfy linen pants the moment I arrive home and having dinner with my grandparents on Thursdays.
Tradition is the framework to our life, it provides calm and dependable moments when everything else in this world gets confusing (and scary).
There are few better cultural exchanges than food traditions, the actual meal but also the preparation of it.
From Grandma's British Sunday roasts with all the trimmings, to the American Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving, Challah bread at Hanukkah, hearty bone-in ham, shortbread, chocolates, okay - everything that floods the table at Christmas and Easter lamb (which is eaten at this time for interesting and varied religious reasons).
So I was thrilled to get my hands on Michael Hatzifotis' family lamb recipe when I interviewed him in this month's Village News column. Michael owns well-known Brisbane café, Cantinho, which has attracted a following for its homemade Greek dishes (his Aunty runs the kitchen).
Michael's Lamb Souvla recipe is brilliant for Easter Sunday and though it was designed for a Greek-style charcoal spit roast, a very low gas barbecue will work too (you'll just have to cut back on cooking time by 15-30 minutes).
Simply follow these three key commandments for lamb that's soft as butter:
- lots of onions,
- lots of time (marinating)
- and go easy on the salt
To explain, the onions are vital in tenderising the lamb so make sure you coat the meat with the marinade and leave it at least overnight to work its magic. Adding salt to the lamb during the grilling process will make the meat tough, so heed the instructions and wait until the final 10 minutes to add more. The lamb should be blushing pink inside when it’s served (alongside warm pita and cool Greek salad).
Michael’s Greek Lamb Souvla
- 1.5kg boned lamb shoulder
- 3 brown onions, diced
- 10 garlic cloves, crushed
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ½ cup dried oregano
- to taste salt and pepper
- 1 packet wooden skewers
Slice lamb into fist-sized pieces and place in a large dish. Combine onions, garlic, oil, half the oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl or pulse ingredients in a food processor. Pour this marinade over lamb, being sure to coat every piece. Cover dish with cling film and place in fridge to marinate overnight.
Before cooking soak wooden skewers in water for at least 10 minutes, this will stop them from burning.
Prepare charcoal barbecue or preheat gas barbecue to low. Take meat out of fridge and thread onto skewers.
Place skewers on heat and cook for 1-1½ hours. Baste the skewers every 15-20 minutes with marinade left behind in dish and sprinkle them with the remaining dried oregano. Add desired salt to the skewers 10 minutes before taking them off the grill.
Serve with Greek salad and warm pita bread.