May it Please the Palate: Stuffed leg of lamb

With a mediation on Monday and an Unfair Labor Practice hearing on Tuesday, on Sunday I did what I must. I cooked a traditional Greek Easter dinner for my law firm and families.

Taramasalata, skordalia, tzatziki, and hummus? Check. Stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie, feta, olives, and peppers? Of course. Greek salad? De rigueur. Smoke whitefish paté and sausage, and smoked trout? Hey--how'd that get in there? But we had that, too.

The entrée was a boneless leg of lamb stuffed with spinach, feta, and herbs. I purchased two of the boneless legs from my butcher, and laughed nervously when he said, "That'll be $140." Generously, he threw in some twine for free.

I was fairly true to the recipe below, from "Bon Appetit." I changed it to marinate overnight, added more fresh herbs, and kept it smothered in spinach leaves to keep it moist. It was perfection, roasted to 140° Greek style medium (never red).

Eating lamb after 47 days of meatlessness was no shock to the system--it was like riding a bicycle. This Greek was hungry!

I served it with roasted potatoes and green bean casserole kapama, plenty of bread, more tzatziki (yogurt-cucumber-garlic sauce) for a garnish, and a hearty red wine.

I played unrelenting Greek music during the appetizers, prompting someone to channel Monty Python's "shut that bloody bouzouki music!" - whereupon we switched to Sly and the Family Stone. Just as eclectically, dessert was baklava, apple-cranberry pie, and my homemade chocolate dipped "Better than Paquetta's" macaroons. (And perhaps a spot or two of Ouzo.)

Stuffed Easter Leg of Lamb

* 6-8-pound leg of lamb, boned

* free twine from butcher

Marinade Ingredients

* 1/4 cup olive oil

* 3 T fresh lemon juice

* 2 cloves garlic, minced

* 2 t oregano

* 2 t salt

* 1/2 t pepper

Stuffing Ingredients

* 1 lb. or more fresh spinach, stemmed, chopped, and well washed

* 1T salt

* 1/3 cup olive oil

* 1 cup green onion

* 1/2 cup chopped parsley

* 1/4 cup chopped dill

* 1/4 cup chopped mint

* 1/4 cup bread crumbs

* 1 egg

* 1/4 t oregano

* 1/8 t pepper

* 4 ounces feta cheese, cubed

Directions

Blend marinade ingredients and thoroughly rub lamb inside and out. Marinate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Saute green onion in olive oil. Add about half the spinach and sauté lightly. Remove mixture from pan.

Mix remaining ingredients (except cheese) to make stuffing.

Lay lamb out on a clean surface, skin side down. Spread boned-out side of meat with spinach stuffing and then sprinkle feta evenly.. Roll and tie with twine.

Place half the remaining spinach in the bottom of a heavy roasting pan, to make a bed for the lamb.

Place lamb on bed of spinach. Cover with remaining spinach.

Surround lamb with peeled potatoes cut into 1/8ths, tossed with olive oil, chopped garlic, kosher salt, pepper, oregano, lemon, and a couple of dashes Frank's® ancient Greek recipe hot sauce.

Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Lower oven temp to 350. Depending on size of lamb and amount of stuffing will take approximately 1-1/2 hours to 3 hours. Check frequently with meat thermometer until the desired 140° internally.

Remove lamb from oven and rest for 15-20 minutes before serving. Carve against grain, serve on spinach bed surrounded by potatoes.

Bonus Quick Tzatziki Recipe

Grate one English cucumber into a colander, salt and drain for 30 minutes.

Mix 4 cups of Fagé Greek yogurt into a bowl and add:

* salt and freshly ground pepper

* 3 large cloves garlic, finely minced

* 1 TB fresh lemon juice

* 3 TB olive oil

* 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

* 1/4 cup each chopped fresh mint and fresh dill

Thoroughly dry the cucumber after it has drained, with a salad spinner and then squeezed into a towel. Add the cucumber to the remaining ingredients.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

It was so nice to enjoy family, co-workers, friends, and a delicious Greek Easter meal, with ample time afterwards to prepare for my hearings, in lieu of sleep.

Got to keep my priorities in check.

Christos Anesti!

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard and Walker, P.C., a law firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation.

He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine.

He can be reached at: nroumel @nachtlaw.com

Published: Thu, Apr 19, 2012

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