In Greek: αρνί γεμιστό, pronounced ahr-NEE yeh-mee-STOH
Versions of this stuffed leg of lamb are often first choice for Greek families at Easter, but this is such a beautiful dish that it’s perfect for special occasions and family meals. Stuffing the butterflied leg of lamb with layers of peppers (red and green) and cheeses is easy to do, and when the final dish is sliced, the spiraling design of meat and stuffing is beautiful, and it tastes delicious.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- 1 leg of lamb, boned and butterflied (4 to 4 1/2 pounds after boning)
- 3 tablespoons of red wine
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons of crushed Greek oregano (rigani)
- For the Stuffing:
- 2 green bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, sliced in thin rings
- 2 red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, sliced in thin rings
- 7 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
- 3 1/2 ounces of aged anthotryo cheese, grated (or ricotta salata or other low-salt hard grating cheese)
- For the Pan and Sauce:
- 1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, sliced in thin rings
- 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, sliced in thin rings
- 1 medium onion, sliced in thin rings
- 1 carrot, cut in slices
- 1 medium tomato, cut in thin slices
- 3 1/2 ounces of olive oil
- 3 1/2 ounces of water
- 1 3/4 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of crushed Greek oregano (rigani)
- 1 level tablespoon of flour
- 3 tablespoons of water
- Also Needed:
- butcher’s string or netting
- Lay the lamb out on a clean work surface. With hands, coat both sides of the meat first with wine, then olive oil. Sprinkle both sides with the salt, pepper, and oregano.
- Preheat oven to 480F (250C).
- Place the lamb fat side down. Distribute the filling evenly across the meat, leaving a clean edge around all sides of about 1 inch. Start with the peppers, then the crumbled feta, and end with the grated cheese.
- Starting from one side, roll up the lamb like a jelly roll, tucking in any small pieces of meat that extend out the sides. Tie with butcher’s string in four places: close to each end, and evenly spaced out across the middle. (If you use netting, enclose the roll.)
- Place the lamb in a roasting pan, fat side up. Add sliced peppers, onion, carrot, and tomato around the lamb, and pour 3 1/2 ounces each of olive oil and water over the vegetables. Stir to make sure vegetables are coated.
- Roast at 480°F (250°C) for 20 minutes. Turn the roll over and cook another 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 390°-395°F (200°C). After 40 minutes, turn the roll over again (fat side up), add 1 3/4 cups of water, and continue to cook for 40 minutes longer. (Total cooking time: 2 hours)
- Remove from oven and place lamb on a platter to rest.
- Transfer pan juices and vegetables to a blender and purée. (This may have to be done in stages if there’s too much for the blender to hold.) Pour the puréed sauce into a saucepan, add salt, pepper, and oregano, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- In a bowl, mix 1 level tablespoon of flour with 3 tablespoons of cold water, and stir to make a smooth paste. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the sauce and mix until smooth. Stir the flour mixture into the sauce, and continue to boil gently, stirring, until it thickens slightly.
- Remove string or netting from the lamb and discard. Carve the roll in slices going across. Serve with rice or pasta and the sauce – either on the side, or spooned on top.
Yield: serves 6