Greek...Italian....Apples and Oranges- we are all just fruit right? Two of our dear friends are Greek and its so funny how similar our cultures are. We spent our first Greek Easter with my friends family and boy oh boy was it goooood! It was so nice to see other cultures celebrations. With us Easter is a Marathon of eating. From the moment you walk in the door until you unbutton your pants on the car ride home-you are eating...non stop. Its amazing. I was blessed to be born into a family that knows how to cook. I think that when you have a love for eating and tasting the cooking comes naturally. Food has always and will always be comforting. Big meals surrounded by 30 of your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents is one of the biggest joys in life.
Greek Easter was a very different experience for us. We are used to sitting down, eating, talking and drinking wine the whole time. Nope...not the Greeks. We drive up and we could instantly smell the lamb roasting on the spit from down the block. The first thing that my Friend father does is rips off a piece of meat and hands it to us. Amazing. Then I see this thing that I thought was sausage. Her mother says that its the insides of the lamb wrapped up in intestines. Gross to most...but to me I couldn't wait to try it. Then the music started and everyone was dancing. Then a little bit of food...then dancing-rinse and repeat. My husband and I are used to eating and eating and eating. All of this moving around in between courses got us full very quickly. Next year I'll be prepared.
I'm always teaching my friend how to cook like an Italian and in return she teaches me to cook Greek. Bless her heart, because she does try, but she needs to stick with the Greek cooking! (love ya!). One of the first things she told me is "lamb, lemon and spices can make anything Greek- just leave out the Windex". When i came up with this next dish i made it for my friend. She said that this dish 'isn't really Greek' but she will let it slide because its so damn good.
Stuffed Leg of Lamb
1 Leg of Lamb, butterflied (you can use bone in or out)
2 apples chopped
1 onion chopped
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup of fresh mint, diced (you can use dried too but try not to please!)
3 lemons- 3 juiced, 1 zested
Salt & pepper to taste
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
In a saute pan (big enough to hold your lamb) heat some Olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and apples. Stir and cook until tender. Add the Mint, Lemon juice and zest. Cook for another 5 minutes on low.
Lay out your lamb and, if needed, pound out the lamb so that it is all even thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Lay the apple mint mixture on top. Then add the crumbled goat cheese. Roll the meat and tie it with some butchers twine to keep it from opening up during cooking.
Add another few tablespoons of Oil to the Pan you used to cook the apples in. Place the Lamb roll in there and cook for 2-3 minutes each side to get a nice sear (I flipped mine too early here but the other sides came out good). When all sides are seared put it in your pre-heated oven and cook for about an hour or until the temperature is 140F degrees. Take it out of the oven and let it sit, loosely covered with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve.
Wine suggestions: I personally like Petite Sirah. Most of them have a great spicy peppery taste.