Naxian Patoutha (Lamb Pilaf) for Greek Easter

Easter is more important to Greeks than Christmas! Greek Easter means a fast that ends with the most succulent lamb imaginable. If you’re a traditionalist, you’re roasting the lamb on a spit, but if you’re from a cramped mountainous village in Greece, like Apeiranthos on the island of Naxos, there isn’t much space for a spit. Roasting a lamb on a spit is a mainland Greek tradition, so the villagers of Apeiranthos, where Diva #1 is from, stuff their lamb with Patoutha and roast it in the oven. Diva #1’s Daddy amended this traditional lamb stuffing recipe to suit a leg of lamb in the oven. He still incorporated all the juices from the lamb, so you can barely taste the difference. If you’re a purist you will make the Patoutha and sew it into a lamb that will roast all day on Easter Sunday. But if stuffing a lamb and roasting it slowly seems like a lengthy and daunting task, fret not, this amended Naxian Patoutha recipe will have you and your Easter guests salivating.


 

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Naxian Patoutha (Lamb Pilaf) for Greek Easter

  • Prep time:
  • Cook time:
  • Total time:
  • Yield: 6-8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Recipe type: Side Dish

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb (2 ½ kg) leg of lamb
  • Olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 lamb or beef bouillon/stock cube (we use Knorr)
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped and separated
  • 2 white onions, diced
  • 4 cups long grain parboiled rice
  • 2 bags (117g each) Spinach (not baby spinach), finely chopped
  • 2 cups Sultana brown raisins
  • ⅓ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Place the lamb in a pan. Cover and rub the lamb with olive oil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper
  2. Cover the lamb with the juice of the lemons and toss the squeezed lemons in the pan
  3. Pour 5 cups of water in the pan, add the lamb or beef bouillon/stock cubes into the water, with the white of the green onions, and the white onions. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, remove it 30 minutes before the lamb is done
  4. Cook at 300 F for 2 to 2 ½ hours, keep checking the pan while the lamb cooks and add water if necessary. An internal temperature (stick a meat thermometer in the meatiest, not fattest, part) of 140 F is rare and 160 F is medium. Broil the skin to make it crispy in the last few minutes of cooking time
  5. Cook the rice until al dente. Set aside
  6. Remove the lamb from the pan, set aside, and discard the rosemary sprigs
  7. Add the spinach, dill, green from the green onions, Italian parsley and raisins to the pan with the lamb broth. Mix
  8. Start adding the rice slowly until the rice has soaked up all the broth, the pilaf should be dry. You will likely have leftover white rice. Mix, and adjust seasoning to taste
  9. Place the pan back in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 250 F
  10. NOTE: You can shred the lamb meat and incorporate it into the pilaf, which is what we like to do, or serve the lamb on the side of the pilaf

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