Sebastians Taverna. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian
Oregano is an absolute must I find the dried kind stands up better to long cooking than the fresh leaves and a couple of bay leaves, as used by Buxton and Hayden, dont go amiss either. A little acidity in the form of lemon juice, rather than Giannopoulos white wine, helps to cut through the richness of the meat and potatoes, so you can keep going back for more. Best followed by a glass of raki and a sleep in the shade of a gnarly fig tree.
( serves 6)
1 lamb shoulder, about 2kg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 heads of garlic
1 kg waxy potatoes
1 large red onion
1 red pepper
1 bay leaf
12 cherry tomatoes
Rub the meat with petroleum. Sprinkle over the cinnamon, oregano and salt, and peel and roughly crush half a head of garlic. Rub all this into the meat with your hands along with the juice of one lemon. Cover and leave for 12 hours.
Heat the oven to 160 C. Cut the potatoes into wedges and use them to line the base of a large lidded casserole dish( or use a cook tin lined with enough parchment paper to fold over the top of the joint on both sides youll probably need two pieces at right angles ). Cut the onion into wedges and the pepper into chunky strips, lifting the seeds, then add the cherry tomatoes. Place the lamb on top. Cut the remaining garlic and lemon in half laterally, squeeze the lemon briefly over the potatoes, and tuck the shells and the garlic in around the joint along with the bay foliage. Pour 200 ml water into the dish. If utilizing a casserole dish, tuck a damp piece of greaseproof on top and cover-up, if use a roasting dish, sprinkle the overhanging newspaper with water and fold over and tuck in to form a sealed package. Bake for 4-5 hours until very tender.
Turn the oven up to 220 C and roast, uncovered, for 10 -1 five minutes at this higher temperature, then lift the joint out and set aside. Set the vegetables back in for 15 minutes until starting to brown, then serve with the meat.
Kleftiko: Greek cooking at its best? Do you like to keep yours simple, or make it a dinner in itself like this one? And what do you serve with it ?