Kleftiko is one of the best and easiest ways to cook lamb. Baked inside parchment paper along with veggies, and then covered with aluminum foil on top, to make sure all of the delicious aromas lock inside the meat and no flavor escapes!
And once the lamb has slow-cooked to the point it falls off the bone, you raise the temperature, unwrap the lamb parcels leaving the meat to get nicely roasted on top.
Ingredients To Make Lamb Kleftiko
All of the favorite Greek flavors are used to flavor this lamb recipe. And I'm talking about tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, lots of garlic (of course), dried oregano + thyme, and feta cheese.
I'm sure you can imagine already how yummy it tastes!
Also it gets baked together with the potatoes that get really soft and mellow inside the parcels.
Lamb Cuts And 2 Tips For Making The Best Kleftiko
Although lamb shanks are possibly the best part of a lamb, it is not the ideal cut for making Kleftiko because the long bone is difficult to wrap inside a parcel (unless they come from a young animal). So for making Kleftiko, use lamb cuts of shoulder and leg that contain bone. The bone helps to keep the meat nice and juicy.
Or Check out Jamie Oliver's guide on - How To Choose The Right Cut Of Lamb
And as for the 2 tips on making the Best Kleftiko:
- Use Spring Lamb or Baby Lamb to make this recipe. These types of lamb we use the most in Greece. But if you are using an older animal cook it a bit longer (as instructed in the recipe below).
- Marinate the meat overnight. The more you let the meat marinate the more flavorful it will get and the softer it will become.
One Thing To Keep In Mind...
The Lamb parcels are baked inside a pan that's covered with water at the bottom. Make sure to keep an eye throughout baking to make sure there is always water in the pan. This prevents the food from burning and sticking at the bottom.
Greek Side Dishes To Serve With Kleftiko
Greek Lamb Kleftiko (with vegetables & feta)
For The Marinade:
- 5 large cloves of garlic
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dry oregano
- 1,5 tablespoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice fresh
- ⅔ teaspoon ground coriander
- 50 ml white wine
For The Lamb:
- 2 kilograms / 4.4 pound lamb leg or shoulder cuts (with bone)
- 1 kilogram / 2.2 pounds potatoes peeled
- 1 large red onion
- 1 large green bell pepper
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes
- 5 large garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 150 grams / 5.3 oz feta cheese cut into ½-inch cubes
- parchment paper
- aluminum foil
- kitchen or natural twine
For The Marinade:
- Add all of the ingredients for the marinade to a food processor except the wine and blend until garlic gets finely minced and everything gets mixed well together.
- Transfer the marinade to a mixing bowl and add the wine and lamb parts. Mix and rub the meat very well. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it to marinate for at least 2 hours or in the fridge overnight.
To Make The Lamb Kleftiko:
- Preheat oven to 180°C / 356°F.
- Cut the potatoes into chunky pieces (5cm / 2-inch). And add them to a mixing bowl. Cut the bell pepper, onions, and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add to the bowl as well.
- Cut the 5 garlic cloves in half and add them together with the other vegetables.
- Add the dried oregano and olive oil to the bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix well.
- Season also the lamb with salt and pepper as well.
- Take two pieces of parchment paper and place one on top of the other.
- Take the ⅕ of the vegetable mixture and place it at the center of the parchment paper. Add a portion of the lamb on top. Toss a few pieces of feta cheese here and there.
- Close the parchment papers by grabbing the pointed edges and closing them together over the meat. Tie tightly using some kitchen or natural twine. Then take a big piece of aluminum foil and wrap it around each parcel. This ensures that all of the juices and aromas are well secured inside each parcel.
- Repeat the process until you have 5 parcels. Try to add some of the marinade that's sinking at the bottom of the bowl to each parcel.
- Place the parcels into a large pan that fits them. Add enough water to cover just the bottom of the pan by 1 cm / ½ inch in height.
- Bake for about 2 hours (if using Spring lamb) or 2 hours and a half if cooking an older piece of lamb. NOTE: Make sure that throughout baking there is enough water to cover the bottom surface of the pan just enough so the food doesn't stick at the bottom. If the water evaporates add just a splash more.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully open each parcel and place the pan back in the oven. Raise the temperature to 200°C / 392°F.
- Roast until both the lamb and potatoes get a nice brown color on top. About 15-20 minutes.
- Then remove the pan from the oven and carefully close as much as possible each parcel again (no need to tie it) and let the meat rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.
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