Lamb "Vlachiko," Baked in Yogurt
In the northwestern part of the country, all sorts of meats, from chicken to savory meatballs to lamb and goat, are cooked in sauces based on the local, delicious, thick, strained sheep's milk yogurt.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin northern Greek olive oil
- 100 gr. (3 ounces) butter
- 2 kilos (4 lbs.) boneless lamb, leg or shoulder, rinsed, trimmed and cut into large cubes
- 2 leeks, trimmed and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup northern Greek white wine
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 β€“ 2 cups water or stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 cups strained Greek yogurt, preferably sheepβ€™s milk
- 8 Tbs. flour
- 6 eggs
- Β½ cup grated Kefalotyri cheese
Preheat the oven to 180Β°C/350Β°F. In a large, wide pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and butter. Place the meat in the pan, in batches if necessary, and brown on all sides. Add the leeks and stir until the leeks soften a little. Add the garlic and stir. Pour in the wine. As soon as most of the wine has evaporated, season the meat and vegetables with salt and pepper.
Transfer the meat, pan juices, and leeks to a large oven-proof casserole dish, preferably clay or ceramic. Pour in enough water or stock to cover the meat. Add bay leaves. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Check liquid content occasionally and add more hot water or hot stock as needed.
About 40 minutes before removing lamb from oven, whisk together the yogurt, flour, and eggs until smooth. Season with salt. Pour this mixture over the lamb and continue baking until the yogurt sets, about 35 to 40 minutes. Ten minutes before removing the dish from the oven, sprinkle with grated Kefalotyri cheese. Remove, cool slightly and serve.
The flavors of this dish are best highlighted by a rich red aged wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot from Metsovo.