Guide To Make Kleftiko Recipe Leg Of Lamb Simple

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Kleftiko, a succulent slow-roasted lamb dish, is a cornerstone of Greek cuisine. Its name translates to “stolen,” referencing the traditional method of hiding the meat in a pit or buried underground for slow cooking. While modern ovens have replaced the pit, the essence of kleftiko remains – tender, fall-off-the-bone lamb infused with aromatic herbs and citrus. This recipe captures the spirit of this classic dish, offering a taste of Greece in your own kitchen.


Kleftiko Recipe (Greek Lamb Cooked in Parchment)
Kleftiko Recipe (Greek Lamb Cooked in Parchment)

1 whole leg of lamb (2.5-3 kg)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)

  • Instructions:

    1. Marinate the Lamb: In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Create a bed of half the herb mixture in the bottom of a baking dish.

    2. Prep the Lamb: Using a sharp knife, make small pockets throughout the lamb leg. Season generously with salt and pepper on all sides.

    3. Flavor Infusion: Stuff the remaining herb mixture into the pockets created in the lamb. Place the seasoned lamb on top of the herb bed in the baking dish. Nestle the bay leaf next to the lamb.

    4. Optional Deglazing (For Extra Flavor): If using white wine, pour it into the baking dish, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. This deglazing step adds a depth of flavor to the final dish.

    5. Moisturizing the Lamb: Pour the chicken broth around the lamb, ensuring at least half the leg is submerged. If needed, add additional broth to reach that level.

    6. Cover and Preheat: Tightly cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F).

    7. Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Once the oven reaches temperature, place the covered baking dish inside and slow roast for 3-4 hours. The lamb is done when a fork easily pierces the thickest part of the meat, and the juices run clear.

    8. Resting is Key: Remove the lamb from the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender dish.

    9. Carving Magic: Once rested, transfer the lamb to a cutting board and carve into thin slices. Discard the bay leaf.

    10. Serving Up Perfection: Serve the kleftiko hot with roasted vegetables, couscous, or rice. Drizzle some of the pan juices over the lamb and vegetables for an extra burst of flavor.

    Nutrition Facts (Per Serving):

    Calories: Approximately 450 (based on a 3kg lamb leg)

  • Protein: 50g
  • Fat: 30g
  • Carbohydrates: 5g (depending on side dishes)

  • Please note: This is an approximate nutritional value and can vary depending on the specific cut of lamb and ingredients used.


    Kleftiko is a culinary journey waiting to be explored. The combination of slow-roasted lamb, aromatic herbs, and citrus creates a dish that is both comforting and satisfying. This recipe offers a straightforward approach to experiencing this Greek classic in your own home. Get ready to impress your guests with a taste of the Mediterranean!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

    1. What cut of lamb can I use instead of a whole leg?

    You can substitute the leg of lamb with a shoulder roast or even lamb chops. However, the cooking time may need to be adjusted depending on the thickness of the cut.

    2. Can I use red wine instead of white wine?

    Yes, red wine can be used as a substitute for white wine. It will impart a slightly different flavor profile, but will still be delicious.

    3. How can I tell if the lamb is done without a meat thermometer?

    After the recommended cooking time, insert a fork into the thickest part of the lamb. If the juices run clear and the meat is easily pierced, the lamb is cooked through.

    4. What are some good side dishes for kleftiko?