All posts tagged: lamb

Lamb Kleftiko

DISCLOSURE: I don’t condone stealing. There is just one instance, however, where I do pardon a certain group of thieves because their act of stealing eventually gave the world a glorious gift. The thieves I’m speaking of are the klephts, an indigenous population that descended from the Greeks who fled into the mountains to escape—and from which to fight—the Turkish occupiers of Ottoman Greece. The klephts snuck from the mountains to steal grazing lambs or goats, then retreated back to the mountains to cook their stolen goods. The meat was seasoned with oregano and thyme or even wild garlic, placed in an underground pit and covered with soil and branches on top to trap the aromas and the smoke while cooking. Doing so helped to avoid detection from their adversaries. This sneaky style of cooking later became known as kleftiko—the food of the “klephts” or thieves. Over time, the method moved from underground pits to outdoor wood-fired ovens. These days, we make LAMB KLEFTIKO indoors, baked in any conventional oven. The lamb is either assembled …

Lamb Vrasto and Pilafi

My Greek DNA stretches across Greece from the ancient city of Olympia (Yiayia Helen Patsuris Metos) to the high mountain village of Stromi in the Roumeli region (Papou Chris Metos), through Megara in Attiki (Papou Pete Saltas)  and across the sea to Gavalahori, Crete (Yiayia Stella Nepolis Saltas). Greek blood runs hot, but it’s my Cretan blood line (originally Nebavlakis but shortened to Nepolis) that proudly boils hottest of all. This Cretan recipe is all about vrasto (vra-STO), meaning boiled. I have been dancing to traditional Cretan music since the second grade, joining hands with thousands of fellow Utah Cretans—one of the oldest and largest Cretan communities in the USA—all dedicated to preserving and celebrating Crete’s rich heritage. From long tradition, Cretan weddings feature ARNI VRASTO, typically served late into the wedding party night—hours after the wedding reception meal was served and with plenty of drinks and dancing in between. We Utah Cretans also serve this time honored meal at our horoesperithas (dance parties) twice a year. Dancing builds appetites. After working up a sweat …

Yiayia’s Lamb Stew

Growing up, a winter snowfall meant braving the weather to make snow angels, build snow forts, and endure intense snowball fights with my brothers. But now, when the temperature drops lower than 40 degrees and the weatherman even mentions an approaching snowstorm, all I want to do is bundle up indoors with blankets and put something warm in my belly. My yiayia’s lamb stew always does the trick. My yiayia is probably a lot like yours. They love with their whole hearts, constantly nag us to get married, and would never let us leave their house hungry or empty handed. Yiayia Saltas makes me an egg sandwich whenever I visit, sends me home with a large bowl of orzo, brings spanakopita to all of our family parties, and still has time to play bingo twice a week while hitting “like” on all of my Facebook posts. My yiayia seems to be cooking all year round but it’s her winter dishes that keep me warm and stir my deepest memories. Her lamb stew, so hearty and healthy that it’s perfect on a cold winter day, ranks …