Lamb is a very popular meat in Greek cuisine. This particular recipe demonstrates how very few ingredients and minimal effort can create a delicious meal, full of flavours.
In the following recipe, don’t be put off by the amount of fat you see on the meat. Most of it will melt away to create a tasty sauce that can be used creatively in other dishes too and the part which will remain can be placed aside or be eaten. It melts in the mouth!!
Here we go:
1 kg lamb
1 carton of passata sauce (Πουμαρο for my Greek friends). If you don’t know what passata is, it’s sieved tomatoes. You can find it in the chopped tomato section of every supermarket.
1-2 tsps ground cumin
10-15 whole cloves
4-5 dried bay leaves
1 glass red wine
2 cups long grain rice
2 cups water
Salt/pepper to taste
1. Cut the meat in large chunks.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and brown the meat in both sides.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add the passata sauce, cumin, cloves, bay leaves, wine and a couple of cups of water (or until the meat is fully covered), stir and bring to the boil.
5. Lower heat and let the meat simmer for at least 1-2 hours.
6. If the meat needs more water then add more.
7. The meat is ready when the sauce has thickened and the meat can be easily removed from the bone with a fork, without the need of a knife . It should really melt in your mouth.
8. The last time you add water and once the sauce comes to a boil, fill one cup with sauce and set it aside
9. Once the meat is ready, take pan off heat.
10. In the meantime, pour 2 cups of water and the cup of sauce you have stored in another pan and bring to the boil.
11. Lower heat and add the rice. Stir well and add salt to taste.
12. Let it boil slowly, with the pan almost covered.
13. Once the liquid has reached the level of the rice, cover the pan and lower the heat as low as it can go.
14. Let the rice cook until there is no liquid left, WITHOUT opening the lid. The rice will cook in its own steam.
15. When ready, open lid and taste rice. If it needs a bit more cooking, cover with lid again and let it cook in its steam a bit longer.
16. When ready, serve with meat immediately.
• Calculate so that half a cup of rice is enough for 1 person. Therefore, if you plan to serve more than 4 persons increase the amount I gave above accordingly.
• Also, measure the amount of water you use to boil the rice so that for each cup of rice you use 1 and a half cups of water (including the cup of the sauce).
• Using some of the sauce to boil the rice in it is a great way to add flavour to it. Even if you plan to use pasta in this recipe, boiling it in water with some of the sauce will make the pasta taste even better.
• In general, to add flavours to an otherwise plain pasta or rice side dish, try to cook the rice or pasta in water by adding some of the sauce of the meat/fish which you cook as the main course. You will not believe the difference this makes to the taste!!!
• Cloves and cumin are used a lot in Greek cuisine to enhance the flavour of meat and especially casserole dishes, when a rich, thick sauce is required. Try and add them to any meat recipe you make and taste the difference!!