It seems that a Greek collection of recipes is supposed to include a roast lamb, and I’m sure that most Greek Americans would agree. But the only way I’ve had roast lamb in Greece is from a spit, on Easter (when it’s sometimes a goat) or some other very special occasion, or at a restaurant that cooks on a spit or makes lamb kebabs or stews. The spit cooking in Greece is usually done by a male (just like the barbeque pits in this country), so I have had virtually no personal experience with spit cooking except for gratefully picking up my plate and eating. And aside from Easter, my friends in rural Greece don’t eat a lot of meat, and when they do, it’s certainly not roasted, because no one I know has an oven. They eat fish, caught locally, or make an occasional chicken soup, or buy a little ground meat at the butcher’s.
There have been a few occasions when meat was stewed, simply, on the stove top. So, although it’s not my favorite way to cook meat, I’m including here a very straightforward recipe for a stove-top braised lamb. Orzo is the most probable accompaniment.
- 2 lbs lamb shoulder—could include shoulder chops
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- Wash the lamb in cold water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. If the lamb is too big to fit into your largest saucepan in one piece, cut it into two or three pieces.
- Heat the oil over medium high heat, add the lamb, and brown it well on all sides.
- Add the garlic, oregano, and salt and turn the meat one more time to distribute it around, and then add the white wine. Turn the heat up to high and turn the lamb a couple more times, cover the pan, turn the heat down to a simmer, and continue to simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, checking for liquid and turning the lamb from time to time. If the liquid is gone and the meat starts to stick, add a couple tablespoons of warm water.
- The lamb is done when it’s fork tender and beginning to come away from the bone. Transfer it to a serving platter, drain most of the fat away from the pan—this is a very important step—and add a couple tablespoons of wine or water to the pan. Raise the heat to high and scrape up all the cooking scraps from the pan. Pour the residue over the lamb and serve.
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