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April 1, 2011

As beautiful as the weather was over the last couple of days just so it changed and suddenly yesterday the day was dull, cooler and the low hanging clouds soon started weeping onto the hot parched earth and plants. Dont you just love that smell when the rain first hits the ground…such an earthy, raw beautiful aroma that wafts indoors and assails the senses….God bringing life to His creation. I just love it! So, just as the weather changed overnight so too my thoughts about food changed – from salads and iced tea and not much of an appetite or desire to cook in the heat to going in search of recipes for soups and casseroles. Thoughts of wrapping cold hands around a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Thoughts of snuggling up under a blanket and reading a book. Thoughts of loooong, slow cooking started crossing my mind and suddenly I was hungry and needing to be in the kitchen. I had some lamb knuckles languishing in my freezer so I put a random tweet out asking for suggestions as to what I should do with them. I got varied responses from Tomato Bredie (which I will make really soon as it is one my favourite South African casseroles) to curry (hmmmm my all time favourite favourite) and then this simple one line tweet that really got me thinking…..

 Kleftiko – from what I have read up about this dish it originated in Greece in the 1800’s during the revolution when bands of guerillas would  steal a lamb or goat from the hillside and then cook it over glowing hot stones and embers in a hole in the ground with soil packed over the top to stop any smoke or steam escaping and giving them away. The dish would cook for up to 24 hours!


Serves 4


1,5kg Free Range Lamb Knuckles

100ml extra virgin olive oil

1omls Butter

8 Shallots or small onions – peeled and left whole

6-8 Fat cloves garlic – left unpeeled

1 Clove Garlic – peeled and finely grated or crushed

2 Tbs Fresh Rosemary – removed from stalks and chopped

1 Tbs Fresh Lemon Thyme – picked from stalks

4 Sprigs Fresh Oreganum –  left on the stalks

1 Fresh Bay leaf – use dried herbs if you don’t have access to fresh but remember to use much less of the dried

1 Lemon – juice and finely grated zest

8-10 Baby Potatoes – washed  I used regular potatoes as that was all I had in the house. Just cut them into quarters or smaller depending on size

250ml Boiling Water

10mls NoMU Lamb Fonds –  stirred into the boiling water. I love this product but if you don’t have access to it use your stock of choice

10ml Runny Honey

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

You will need:

A deep large casserole dish or oven proof saucepan with a good fitting lid

Aluminum Foil


1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celcius

2. Heat half of the oil and all the butter in a large, heavy frying pan over a medium heat. I managed to brown all my meat using just half the oil. You may find you need to use a bit more as you go

3. Add the lamb a few pieces at a time and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel

4. Line your casserole dish with a large sheet of aluminum foil so that it overlaps on all sides

5. Place your browned meat into the casserole, sprinkling over a good grinding of salt and pepper

6. Add the potatoes and onions to the dish and tuck in the whole garlic cloves

7. Sprinkle over the zest, crushed garlic, herbs, lemon juice and drizzle over the honey

8. Tuck in the herb sprigs, pour over the hot stock

9. Bring the sides of the foil up around the contents to make a an airtight parcel

10. Place another sheet of aluminum foil over the top so that it slightly overlaps the edges of the casserole dish

11. Place the lid on tightly then pop it into the preheated oven for 6 hours. Don’t open until the 6 hours are up

12. Remove from oven, open up the parcel and drain off the liquid into a smallish saucepan skimming off most of the fat and oil

13. Reduce rapidly over a high heat until thickened into a nice rich sauce

I served my Kleftiko simply, over a bed of just al dente Risoni pasta, some fresh Italian Parsley and a lemon wedge….HMMMMMMM!!! Sticky, moist, lemony, falling off the bone, rich and delicious! Be sure to squeeze the sweetly roasted garlic out of the skins onto your meat and ENJOY!!

browniegirl xx

48 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2011 5:09 AM

    One of the dishes I most love making, yours turned out beautifully 🙂 xxx

  2. April 1, 2011 7:24 AM

    Nothing nicer than a comforting meal like this – a must make for cold winter days.
    🙂 Mandy

    • April 5, 2011 10:22 PM

      It was delicious and definitely one that I will make more often now that the cooler weather has arrived. Mind you…today was 30deg again hehe…xx

  3. April 1, 2011 7:53 AM

    That looks sooooooooooo good!

    • April 5, 2011 10:23 PM

      Thanx MM, easy enough for that kitchen lovin dort of yours to make for you now that its holidays…xx

  4. April 1, 2011 10:19 AM

    anything cooked long and slow and includes lamb works for me!

  5. April 1, 2011 10:50 AM

    this is so beautiful, and exactly what I need right now.. do you do deliveries, my dear? to sickies? please?!

    • April 5, 2011 10:24 PM

      You’re sick?? Oh no….gotta make that healing chicken soup! Get better soonest. Thank you for your lovely comment xx

  6. April 1, 2011 2:42 PM

    This looks and sounds delicious, Brownie!

    • April 5, 2011 10:25 PM

      Thank you Polkie, it was really good. A definite keeper for us 😉 xx

  7. April 2, 2011 3:21 AM

    I good go a bowl of this right now. Looks delicious Colleen.

    • April 5, 2011 10:25 PM

      Thank you Barbara…real good food this was. I get hungry thinking about now that the leftovers are all finished off 🙂 xx

  8. April 5, 2011 10:26 PM

    I’m salivating while staring at the recipe. Wow Colleen, wow…

  9. April 9, 2011 7:59 AM

    Very tempting, Colleen! Thank you so much.

  10. April 12, 2011 3:59 AM

    Looking at these pictures, It really make me hungry……..
    Looks very delicious , and I will try it.

    • January 29, 2012 8:35 PM

      Thank you kadi…hope that if you tried it you enjoyed it. Sorry it has taken me so long to find hidden away comments in the spam folder 😉 xx

  11. MissChris permalink
    January 18, 2012 8:18 AM

    Cindy sent me here and I am definately going to be making that!!! Yummy!!!

    • January 29, 2012 8:33 PM

      Thank you so much Chrissie, and I am so glad that it brought you accolades today…not me, but YOU!! 🙂 xxx I love getting feedback….be it here or on facebook thank you!

  12. Dave permalink
    May 24, 2012 10:42 PM

    Awesome. Really enjoyed it. The smell in the house for 5 hours was torture.

    • May 25, 2012 10:56 AM

      🙂 I know…..thank you so much for the feedback. I am so glad you enjoyed it!

  13. Peter Thurgood permalink
    May 25, 2012 8:36 PM

    When i cook kleftico i make slits in the meat and stuff in slivers of garlic (lots) and then place in a large sealable plastic bag with about a wine glass of lemon juice and abou 1/3 of a bottle of red wine. Seal the bag and place in the fridge for 3 DAYS, turning several times a day. After 3 DAYS in the marinade remove the joint dry it and slowly roast it, maybe 2 1/2 hours. In the meantime boil the marinade to reduce by half and make a sauce with it. I use a packet of Maderia sauce mix, i’m a cheat. Peter……….

    • May 26, 2012 1:46 PM

      I must try that sometime Peter. But will make my own Madeira sauce. I have never seen any packets around here… is for little cheats now and again 🙂 Thank you

  14. Jools78 permalink
    August 11, 2012 1:45 PM

    Sounds delish and will be cooking for my husband tomorrow. By the way, what happens to the other half of the oil.

    • August 11, 2012 3:00 PM

      Hi Jools78,thanks so much for popping by and for the comment. I managed to get by with just half the oil. You can add more to the pan as you are browning your meat if you find you need to. I will add that text to the recipe just to make it clear. Thanks for pointing it out to me. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do. xx

  15. QSA5 QRK5 permalink
    September 28, 2012 3:07 PM

    My wife and I tried this recipe the other week and loved it all. I gave the recipe to my sister in law and she says it was fantastic. We are having our children and their families over on Sunday, so will be preparing it for them to enjoy. Thanks for posting it.

  16. January 12, 2013 12:41 AM

    I’ve been reading a lot online today, about Greek food.
    I promised, My Beautiful Wife, that I’d make Kleftiko, next Friday (when the banker pays out!). Methinks this recipe will be the one I use! I’ll post back a reply when we’ve licked our fingers 🙂 Do you think it’d work with a Cabernet Sauvignon? Can’t get any Retsina locally!

    • Colleen permalink*
      January 29, 2013 2:46 PM

      Thank you Iain, this would work beautifully with a Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy when you do make it. 😉

  17. May 6, 2013 2:09 PM

    Hi there
    I have read your receipe
    I have a question ? You don’t add any water or wine in the aluminium foil with the meat ? Is going to cook without liquid ?)

    All the best

    • Colleen permalink*
      May 7, 2013 8:33 PM

      Hi there Anamaria,
      Thank you so much for popping by. Yes, if you take a look in the ingredients you will see that there is 250mls (1 Cup) boiling water with 10ml NoMU Fond which is a stock added to it. If you don’t have the NoMU Fond you can use any of your local stock products. I hope you really enjoy this dish if you do try it. xx

  18. August 14, 2013 7:48 AM

    This looks yummy! Can I ask how many people it will serve? Thank you 🙂

    • Colleen permalink*
      August 14, 2013 1:35 PM

      Thank you for asking Amie, this should serve 4 hungry people 😉

  19. October 15, 2013 10:36 PM

    In the oven as i am writing, lamb is my favorite meat and slow cooking makes it best. I always vary this recipe but it always turns out great. First time I ate this was in Greece and it had feta cheese inside, it is a must for me! Great recipe!

    • Colleen permalink*
      December 30, 2013 3:39 PM

      Thank you so much Gourmet Fanatic, I do hope it turned out really well for you. I am so going to try it with Feta…ooooh hungry now despite the intense heat today! Happy 2014!

  20. December 26, 2013 12:19 PM

    Gonna make this with al leg of lamb for the wife’s birthday.had it in Greek resteraunt 20 years ago hope it turns out something llike.will let you know

    • Colleen permalink*
      December 30, 2013 3:11 PM

      Enjoy Tony and thank you so much for the visit and comment. I do appreciate both. Happy Birthday to your wife and I hope your kleftiko turns out in a way that thrills and brings back happy memories. All the best for 2014 😉

  21. November 15, 2014 11:49 AM

    I am making this now but with thick chops as i could not get knuckles today – will reduce cooking time and add green beans.
    Turning out to be a chilly weekend in Umhlanga

    Thank you Colleen sounds divine!

    • Colleen permalink*
      January 1, 2015 10:11 AM

      Happy New Year Sharon 🙂 I hope your dish turned out really well. Sounds delicious with the added beans.

  22. December 3, 2014 9:38 PM

    I live in Canada and nobody can really tell me what lamb “knuckle” is.
    I have had this dish prepared in London (Retsina- Belsize Lane)-
    and it is fantastic. They tell me it is shoulder. Can you
    make this dish with any cut?

    • Colleen permalink*
      January 1, 2015 10:09 AM

      Hi Rob, thank you for your comment. Lamb knuckles are the lower parts of the legs – upper leg of lamb roast part, next section where it starts narrowing is the shank and below that the rest of the leg cut into about 1 inch sections is called knuckles. You should be able to make this dish with any part of the lamb that likes long slow cooking methods. I am so glad you tasted and enjoyed the dish in London. I hope you tried it at home. It is so worth it and rather delicious! Happy 2015 🙂

  23. November 22, 2015 9:28 PM

    I did made this dish a couple of days ago for a dinner party and omg it was fab and our friends raved about it, thank you, it’s definitely going to be made again

    • Colleen permalink*
      November 29, 2015 11:51 PM

      Thank you so much for popping by Jeannette and for your lovely comment. I am so glad you enjoyed it. I am yearning myself now to make it again. Will do so soon 😉


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