I have tried roast leg of lamb in many restaurants outside Greece, but none come any close to this traditional Greek recipe (with a couple of additions from me). Every person that has come back from holidays in Greece and tried it while there has commented on how succulent the lamb was and how every bite brought forth a different taste and aroma. In fact, everyone has asked me how to cook the potatoes to taste as good as that! You see, roast potatoes in Greece are soft like a boiled one, slightly crispy on the edges and taste like a roasted one!
Anyway, back to this recipe. You can use any part of lamb but for me a large leg of lamb is better. For the potatoes, try and find imported ones from Greece or Cyprus (my local greengrocer imports Cypriot potatoes which bring a slightly sweet aftertaste to the dish).
Ideally, you will also need an enamel self basting roasting dish with a lid (see photo below). But even if you don’t, not to worry. You can simply use a deep roasting dish and cover it with a tin foil (piercing it in a few places to let the steam out). I prefer the enamel tin because the meat is slowly cooked in its own steam and juices.
For the recipe you will need:
A leg of lamb
4-5 large potatoes
A bunch of fresh rosemary
4-5 cloves of garlic
1-2 tsps cumin
2 tbsps oregano
Juice of one lemon
Salt/pepper to taste
1. Wash the lamb and place it in the roasting tin.
2. Lift its skin in a few places and stuff it with a few sprigs of rosemary.
3. Using a knife, pierce the leg in a few places (all around, not just on one side) and fill the tiny holes with either a clove or a piece of garlic.
4. Cut the potatoes into large chunks and spread them around the lamb.
5. Add some water to the potatoes, to reach them mid way up.
6. Pour olive oil and the lemon juice over the lamb and potatoes.
7. Sprinkle the cumin over the lamb.
8. Sprinkle the oregano, salt, pepper and any left over rosemary and cloves over the lamb and potatoes.
9. Cover the dish with the lid and cook in the oven at medium heat for a good 1.5-3 hours. Sometimes it can take longer, depending on the lamb. Half way through turn the lamb over to cook it well on both sides.
10. When ready, the meat should be easy to remove from the bone with just a fork and to melt in your mouth. When it is ready, take off lid and cook for a further 5-10min to make the skin and potatoes crispy outside.
You can really play around with different herbs, in order to create various tastes. For example, instead of rosemary you can use sprigs of thyme, or sage, etc.