What’s Up With The Lamb? And Why Don’t We Have It?

What’s Up With The Lamb? And Why Don’t We Have It?

The most common meats in Greece are pork, lamb, beef, goat, chicken, veal and rabbit. In Greece, traditionally, meat was very expensive. Meat was consumed only twice a week and usually accompanied by vegetables, pasta or grains.  Lamb was a very desirable meat in Greece. Lamb is a sheep that is typically less than 1-year old. There is little fat on lamb. The meat can vary in color from a tender pink to a pale red.

Common Greek Meals Prepared with Lamb

Mousaka

One of the most well-known Greek meat dishes is mousaka.  Mousaka is eggplant, ground beef, lamb or pork, potatoes and tomato sauce with béchamel. Bechamel is a rich white sauce made with milk infused with herbs and other flavorings. 

Lamb Fricasse

Lamb Fricasse is cooked with endives or romaine lettuce and an egg-lemon sauce called avgolemono. Greek Fricassee refers to a method of cooking meat or vegetables in avgolemono sauce.

Lamb Stuffed Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves)

Dolma is a family of stuffed dishes. Common vegetables to stuff include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, eggplant, and garlic. Meat dolmas are generally served warm with tahini or avgolemono sauce. Dolmas prepared with olive oil and stuffed with rice are generally served cold with a garlic-yogurt sauce. 

Giouvetsi

Giouvetsi is a lamb baked with orzo pasta and tomato sauce. Giouvetsi or Youvetsi is a baked Greek dish made with chicken, lamb or beef, pasta and tomato sauce. The pasta is either kritharaki (orzo) or hilopites (Greek pasta). Other common ingredients include onions, shallots, garlic, beef stock, and red wine, as well as some cheese to serve.

Roasted Lamb

In Greece, the most popular food at Easter and on many holidays is lamb. The whole lamb is roasted on a spit.   Whole lamb and kokoretsi (the intestines of lamb) are sold in the psistarias (grill houses) all over Athens and especially on the roads outside of town. 

Roasted Potatoes & Lamb

Lamb is also made in the oven with roasted potatoes. Even today in many Greek villages the Sunday dinner is brought to the bakery. For a small fee the bakeries cook the meals. In the past, many homes did not have an oven. However, even today, people still bring their roast lamb and potatoes to the fourno or bakery. The recipe is pretty simple and consists of lamb, garlic, potatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and lemon. 

Lemonato & Kleftiko

Beef, lamb and chicken can also be found cooked in lemon sauce, called lemonato. There is a dish called arni kleftiko which is similar to the roast lamb with potatoes. However, it is cooked in oiled parchment paper which makes it much more tender, as if it has been steamed first.

Gyros

A gyro or gyros is a Greek dish made from meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. In Greece the meat is most often pork or chicken. In the United States and other countries, a mixture of beef and lamb is common in the gyro. It is usually served wrapped or stuffed in a pita, along with ingredients such as tomato, onion, tzatziki sauce, and french fries.

Typical American mass-produced gyros are made with finely ground beef mixed with lamb. However, most of the lamb that you get in gyro-style meat in the United States is processed and only contains about 2- 5% lamb. The rest of it is all filler and the majority of meat in it is actually a mixture of other meats.

For hand-made gyros, meat is cut into approximately round, thin, flat slices, which are then stacked on a spit and seasoned. Fat trimmings are usually interspersed. Spice mixes generally include salt, hot and sweet paprika, white and black pepper, dried parsley, garlic powder, and oregano. Additional spices are sometimes added such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, anise, coriander, fennel, allspice and sumac.

Sourcing Lamb

At Go Greek, the gyro meat is hand stacked and they never, ever use fillers, preservatives or additives in their foods. It’s just the way they do things. Since Go Greek prides itself on their ingredients, they aim to source meats that are 100% antibiotic free. In addition, they want their recipes to always be delicious. They are working on authentic lamb sources and will soon be offering lamb souvlaki on their menus.

Until then, Go Greek prepares a hand-stacked gyro made with chicken or pork. Fresh ingredients, simple recipes and love make up all of the Go Greek recipes.