This is a classic casserole of braised lamb, herbs and either wilted lettuce or spinach. It is finished with a creamy avgolémono (egg and lemon) sauce. This emulsion of eggs and lemon juice is very common in Greek cuisine. It is the sauce for lahanodolmádes, youvarlákia, fish soup and Easter ‘mayirítsa’. to name but a few. It is notoriously unstable and if rushed or overheated will curdle. There a few tips to bear in mind that help to stop that happening on the ‘Hints and Tricks’ page.
For the casserole
500 – 700 gm trimmed, cubed leg of lamb
1 tablespoon of olive oil
400 gm washed spinach OR 2 romaine/cos lettuces OR a 400gm combination of spinach and lettuce (The lettuce should be shredded. If the spinach has small leaves they can be left whole, if they are large leaves they also need to be shredded.)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small leek, finely chopped
500 ml boiling water
A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
A handful of dill, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of corn flour
2 spring onions, finely chopped
For the avgolémono
Juice of 1 lemon
Heat the olive oil in a metal casserole, add the pieces of lamb and gently seal them in the hot oil, turning the pieces so that they do not over cook. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Add the chopped leek and onion to the casserole and soften in the oil. Return the meat to the pan and turn it in the softened leek and onion.
Add about 500ml of boiling water and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 1 hour, until the pieces of lamb are very tender. It may be necessary to add a bit more water as it cooks, you don’t want it to get too dry.
When the meat is cooked, add the chopped lettuce and/or spinach, the dill and parsley and allow to cook gently until the leaves have wilted. This takes about 15 – 20 minutes.
In a cup or small bowl mix the corn flour with a little cold water. Add about a tablespoonful of the cooking liquid from the casserole and mix it well. Now stir the thinned cornflour into the meat and vegetables in the pan and heat well, until the cooking liquid has thickened slightly. Add the finely chopped spring onions and remove the pan from the heat.
Now make the avgolémono. Break the eggs into a fairly large bowl and mix well with a whisk, a little at a time add small amounts of lemon juice, whisking each one in well before adding the next.
Now start adding spoonfuls of the hot cooking liquid from the casserole a little at a time, whisking continuously. Do this with as much of the liquid as possible.
Now put the egg, lemon, cooking liquid mixture back into the casserole with the meat and vegetables. Check the seasoning and stir it gently and then allow it all to rest for a few minutes. If it does need re-heating, do this over a low heat so that the sauce doesn’t curdle.
Serve with boiled rice, and bread – slices of feta are also a nice accompaniment.