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Greek Recipes for Easter Lamb (or Kid)

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Greek Easter celebrations are noted for traditional and delicious foods that include tsoureki (Greek Easter bread), red eggs, and cheese and other dairy dishes (that were prohibited during the 7-week Lenten fast). But the centerpiece of the Easter meal is the meat.

Depending on where you live in Greece, the Easter meat is usually lamb or kid. Kid is not always available, so these recipes center around lamb, but many of them work equally well for kid.

Whether you're cooking for 1 or 100, with a large or small budget, there's a fabulous Greek recipe for lamb to meet your needs!

Click on photos for larger images.

1. Bandit's Lamb - Leg of Lamb Cooked in Parchment Paper

Photo of Arnaki Kleftiko - Lamb Slow Cooked in Parchment Paper
Photo © Jim Stanfield
Arnaki Kleftiko (Bandit's Lamb), is a favorite "story dish."

This is the story as I heard it: Guerillas (or bandits) couldn't cook out in the open for fear of being caught. They would dig a hole, bury a whole (stolen?) lamb or goat in its skin in the coals of a fire, and cover the whole thing up with dirt. The meat would cook slowly, and there would be no animal in sight... and no smell of anything cooking to give them away. When they could get back undetected, a delicious meal awaited.

In this updated version of kleftiko, the meat is, indeed, covered, but with cooking parchment. Leg of lamb, garlic, cheese, potatoes, and carrots are wrapped and cooked in the oven until the meat is falling off the bone.

2. Garlic-Studded Lamb Roast with Potatoes

Photo of Garlic-Studded Lamb Roast with Potatoes - Greek Lamb Roast
Photo © Jim Stanfield
Leg of lamb (bone in or out) and potatoes roasted together with the flavors of garlic, lemon, and oregano is a great Sunday roast or special occasion meal. The recipe is easy to prepare, and the taste is out of this world. If you've never prepared lamb and/or potatoes with lemon juice, this is the time to try.

3. Hazelnut-Crusted Rack of Lamb

Photo of Greek Hazelnut Crusted Rack of Lamb
Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The crust on the lamb is made with a wonderful combination of hazelnuts and thyme, and the result is a delicious dish that is elegant in presentation. A rack of lamb usually consists of 8 or 9 small ribs and can be very expensive, especially for a rack from a very young lamb; something to keep in mind when considering the budget.

4. Lamb Souvlaki (Kebabs) with 3-Day Marinade

Photo of Greek Lamb Souvlaki - Lamb Kebabs
Photo © Jim Stanfield
This recipe is for small chunks of lamb cooked on small wooden skewers, and served as a meze, a dish to complement drinks or beverages, or as a snack - but can easily be converted to a main dish using larger pieces of lamb and adding all the trimmings.

When I first made this recipe years ago, I was concerned about the old-fashioned 3-day marinade process. I started the recipe one evening, cutting the meat and placing it in the marinade. It took 30 minutes. The second evening, it took less than 10 minutes to add the next group of ingredients to the marinade, and the third evening, it took even less time to add the final ingredients. On the final day, it took about 10 minutes to skewer the meat, and 15 minutes to cook.

5. Leg of Lamb with Sprigs of Fresh Sage & Thyme

Photo of Greek Leg of Lamb with Fresh Sage and Thyme
Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Have you ever made a recipe that smelled so good while it was cooking that you had to leave the kitchen because you wanted to try it before it was done? That's what happens in my house when I make this delicious leg of lamb with fresh herbs. And it's a very simple recipe to make.

Sprigs of sage and thyme are inserted into slits in the meat and it cooks in a slow oven. If you haven't cooked with fresh herbs before, make this your first experience.

6. Oven-Roasted Baby Lamb Stuffed with Bulgur

Photo of Greek Stuffed Baby Lamb with Bulgur
Photo © Prosenghisi
The combination of tastes in this recipe are straight from Kappadokia, brought to Greece by repatriated ethnic Greeks. The recipe comes from Nea Karvali, a small town near Kavala in northeastern Greece, and is a favorite Easter alternative to whole spit-roasted lamb.

7. Rolled Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Peppers & Cheese

Photo of Greek Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Cheese and Peppers
Photo © Jim Stanfield
This recipe for Stuffed Leg of Lamb is a wonderfully decorative dish, and a nice change from the more usual (and delicious, of course) lamb with garlic and herbs.

Start with a butterflied leg of lamb, give it a tasty wine and herb rub, add layers of cheeses and peppers, roll it up, tie it, and cook. Don't think the long cooking time is a mistake - it isn't! The taste is fabulous and it's exceptionally pretty, too!

8. Spit-Roasted Whole Lamb with Bread & Wine Stuffing

Photo of Greek Spit-Roasted Stuffed Whole Lamb
Photo © Ted Christou
I have always made my Easter spit-roasted lambs using a standard family favorite, but this year, I'm going to lift my ban on white bread and make this recipe from Ted Christou!

Ted Christou is a Greek American who has made a spit-roasted whole lamb at Easter for the past 20 years. His recipe for a whole lamb stuffed with an herb and wine filling produces a fabulous result and an impressive centerpiece for the Greek Easter celebration.

9. Thyme-Rubbed Lamb Chops on the Grill

Photo of Greek Grilled Lamb Chops with Thyme Rub
Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Lamb with a simple herb rub cooked on the grill is about as classic - and delicious - as it gets. The beauty of this recipe for Grilled Lamb Chops with Thyme Rub is that it works as well for one as it does for one hundred. An easy and simple Greek dish cooked in the traditional way - on the grill. For best results, use fresh thyme. Its slightly woodsy taste and smell go perfectly with lamb.

10. ... and Lamb Stovetop and Oven Casseroles

Stovetop and oven casseroles often call for less expensive cuts of lamb - but these Greek classics don't skimp one bit on taste!

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