Susie Theodorou’s kleftico slow-roasted lamb and bulgur wheat pilaf

The Greek word kleftico translates as ‘stolen meat’ and refers to days gone by, when poachers would steal a goat or sheep then cook the pieces slowly in an underground oven or sealed container, so as not to give themselves away by the cooking aromas! The meat simply cooks in its own juices until it falls off the bone. I like to serve this with a pilaf (see below)Kleftico slow-roasted lamb and a bitter green salad.

John Kernick

SERVES 8

2 tbsp extra virgin
olive oil
2 lemons, sliced
2 whole garlic bulbs, cut in half
2.4kg shoulder of lamb
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
100ml red wine
2 large rosemary sprigs
mixed bitter green salad, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Cover the base and sides of a deep roasting pan with two really long overlapping pieces of foil, shaped in a big cross. Line each sheet of foil with parchment paper and drizzle the base with a tiny bit of the oil. Arrange the lemon slices and garlic on top.
2. Rub the lamb all over with a little oil and a good amount of salt and pepper. Place on top of the lemons and garlic. Drizzle over the red wine and top with the rosemary. Wrap the parchment and then the foil over the meat and seal the parcel well by folding and scrunching over the ends firmly.
3. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and roast for 3 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone. Open up the foil and paper and return to the oven for another 30 minutes for the meat to brown a little.
4. Use a spoon and fork to lift the meat gently from the bone, and serve over the green salad, adding a few roasted garlic cloves and lemon slices to each portion.

Bulgar wheat pilaf

I grew up eating this pilaf with stews, grilled meats, fish or slow-cooked roasted meat. My family have always toasted the vermicelli in the recipe before cooking, and I have since come across a similar method in Spanish cooking.

SERVES 6

Have ready 225g bulgur wheat, 50g vermicelli pasta and 500ml chicken stock (or use water from soaking dried mushrooms or plain water). Peel and finely chop 1 onion and finely chop 25g parsley. Heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté or risotto pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook the onion for 10 minutes until soft and starting to brown in places. Remove the onion and set aside. Add another 2 tbsp oil to the pan. Crush the vermicelli once in your hand, then add to the hot oil and cook, stirring, until golden and toasted. Stir in the bulgur wheat and coat all the grains with the oil. Return the onion to the pan with the stock or water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes until the grains have swelled and all the liquid has been absorbed. Set aside with the lid on for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and season with salt and pepper. Fluff up the grains with a fork and gently mix in the parsley. Serve warm or cold with dollops of Greek yoghurt.

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