Kleftiko literally means “in the style of the klephts”, and traditionally this is lamb slow-baked on the bone, first marinated in garlic and lemon juice, originally cooked in a pit oven. It is said that the klephts, bandits of the countryside who did not have flocks of their own, would steal lambs or goats and cook the meat in a sealed pit to avoid the smoke being seen.
Well, in spite of my having seen my Greek Cypriot father prepare kleftiko many times in his restaurants, my vegan version thankfully involves no animal cruelty, yet contains all the essence of pleasure to be found in this iconic Greek dish. And, by the way, many other similar dishes can be found in my recent book ‘YASOU’, which is full of Greek and Middle Eastern vegan delights !
2 cups wheat gluten – or Orgran make a gluten free alternative, available in the UK from here, or in the US from here (expensive on the US site unfortunately – maybe cheaper to order from the UK link)
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried mint
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp beetroot powder
½ tsp ground white pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp tahini
1 cup water
1 full tsp miso paste
EXTRA – a couple of cloves of garlic chopped into pieces, but large enough to handle with your fingers.
Place dried ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Then add the wet ingredients, and spoon the lot in to your food processor, which you should set up with a plastic blade (not the metal one). Process for 1 minute until incorporated, then spoon out on to a clean surface, knead for a couple of minutes – add a tiny bit more flour if needed -and shape into your meat-free ‘lamb’ joint.
Now stick the pieces of garlic into the vegan joint and bring your broth to a boil (see recipe for broth below).
INGREDIENTS FOR THE SIMMERING BROTH
6 cups spring water
2 Tbsp dark soya sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable granules
a few sprigs of fresh sage leaves
a few sprigs of rosemary
1 cup dry wine of your choice (I used red)
METHOD FOR THE BROTH
Place all the ingredients in a large casserole, and bring to a boil. When it reaches boiling point, gently place the vegan joint in it, cover and lower heat. Boil for 40 minutes, and turn the joint once or twice during the cooking process. Then remove the liquid stock from the joint and allow the joint to cool down for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your joint mix.
MIX FOR ADDING TO THE JOINT IN THE BAKING DISH
salt to taste
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp date syrup
2 Tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp miso
1 tsp dried oregano
he juice of half a lemon
Place the ingredients in a food blender and blend until smooth – use the mixture for the joint.
1 large onion chopped
lemon wedges from 1 lemon
4-5 potatoes cut into wedges – pre-boil for 15 minutes just to get them started
3-4 rosemary sprigs
parchment/grease proof paper
2 bulbs garlic, cut lengthways
METHOD AND ASSEMBLING THE DISH
Heat your oven to 355ºF (180ºC). Now, in a large oven dish place the joint on top of your parchment paper to separate it from the potatoes etc. Place the garlic halves in the corners of the paper around the joint, making sure there is enough slack paper to cover some of the joint afterwards. Now put some chopped garlic, mint and peppercorns on the joint and spoon the joint-mix on to the joint.
Place the chopped onions at the base of your dish, then surround them with tomato wedges around the edges of your dish. And now add the potato wedges on top of the onions.
Drizzle on olive oil and lemon juice and some salt.
Spoon on more of the joint mix only on the joint. Place sprigs of rosemary around the dish, place the dish in the oven for one and a half hours or until the potatoes turn golden and the joint is dry but dark caramel brown in colour. You will need to continue adding the joint mix sauce every 20 minutes to create a denser but flavoursome exterior.
Serve with a Greek salad, some hot pitta bread and a little wine – raise your glasses and enjoy !
All recipes and content © Miriam Sorrell www.mouthwateringvegan.com 2010
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