Prepping for Greek Easter

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karam

Preferred Member
Feb 2, 2019
1,240
4,786
Basel, Switzerland
It is Greek Easter tomorrow, this is what's for lunch.

A leg of mutton, or basically 2+year old female sheep that has given birth.

I ordered it 10 days ago and told the butcher to weigh and tag it and I will pick up today. It was 4kg 10 days ago, 3900g today so it's got some ageing going on.

I salted THE HELL out of it once I got home and put it in the fridge, that will make the salt pull out some water via osmosis, dissolve and then some hours later it will reabsorb into the meat, salting it from the inside and making it more tender as proteins are denatured. I also coated it with a Serbian herb mixture called Vegeta, it is basically like a vegetable stock cube in powder form with a pinch of curry. Also put some dried garlic on it, but not a lot because my mother can't take the taste of sheep OR garlic :)

Pre-cook salting has been among the biggest revelation I had in terms of meat. I was told by a chef friend, said if you can salt at least 24 hours ahead of cooking you get a softer, more flavourful and juicy meat. The other revelation is buying aged meat, very fresh meat is the worst. My dad told me that traditionally the French say you should hang meat until it's almost rotting and falling off the hook. This is an exaggeration, but a lot of meats like beef, lamb and game don't go bad in appropriate conditions, they just get better.

Back to the sheep. This is the fourth time I get a leg of aged sheep from my butcher, the last time it was so good my wife was nearly moved to tears, saying it's like what her grandpa used to make, then I told my butcher and HE was nearly moved to tears. This says something as my wife is Serbian, from a region of Serbia famed for its rolling hills and sheep grazing pastures.

I was puzzled to find that Anglosaxons have put a weird stigma on meat with taste, that'd be game, offal, darker cuts, aged sheep and goat. I find I prefer the taste of American beef when I can get it to European beef, but the "white meat" (chicken and pork) I had in the US was very much lacking in flavour. I find it weird that in the UK chicken breast costs twice as much as legs, they got all the flavour!? People seem to have forgotten what real food tastes like. I see this trend infecting Greece too.

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Ettrick puffer

Preferred Member
Jul 3, 2020
655
8,219
Scottish Borders
It is Greek Easter tomorrow, this is what's for lunch.

A leg of mutton, or basically 2+year old female sheep that has given birth.

I ordered it 10 days ago and told the butcher to weigh and tag it and I will pick up today. It was 4kg 10 days ago, 3900g today so it's got some ageing going on.

I salted THE HELL out of it once I got home and put it in the fridge, that will make the salt pull out some water via osmosis, dissolve and then some hours later it will reabsorb into the meat, salting it from the inside and making it more tender as proteins are denatured. I also coated it with a Serbian herb mixture called Vegeta, it is basically like a vegetable stock cube in powder form with a pinch of curry. Also put some dried garlic on it, but not a lot because my mother can't take the taste of sheep OR garlic :)

Pre-cook salting has been among the biggest revelation I had in terms of meat. I was told by a chef friend, said if you can salt at least 24 hours ahead of cooking you get a softer, more flavourful and juicy meat. The other revelation is buying aged meat, very fresh meat is the worst. My dad told me that traditionally the French say you should hang meat until it's almost rotting and falling off the hook. This is an exaggeration, but a lot of meats like beef, lamb and game don't go bad in appropriate conditions, they just get better.

Back to the sheep. This is the fourth time I get a leg of aged sheep from my butcher, the last time it was so good my wife was nearly moved to tears, saying it's like what her grandpa used to make, then I told my butcher and HE was nearly moved to tears. This says something as my wife is Serbian, from a region of Serbia famed for its rolling hills and sheep grazing pastures.

I was puzzled to find that Anglosaxons have put a weird stigma on meat with taste, that'd be game, offal, darker cuts, aged sheep and goat. I find I prefer the taste of American beef when I can get it to European beef, but the "white meat" (chicken and pork) I had in the US was very much lacking in flavour. I find it weird that in the UK chicken breast costs twice as much as legs, they got all the flavour!? People seem to have forgotten what real food tastes like. I see this trend infecting Greece too.

View attachment 77858
Enjoy my friend! I totally agree with your view on meat, I find it crazy that here in Scotland the food stores buy in New Zealand lamb when we rear the best of lamb and mutton right on our doorstep.
Happy Easter!
Ettrick puffer
 

karam

Preferred Member
Feb 2, 2019
1,240
4,786
Basel, Switzerland
Enjoy my friend! I totally agree with your view on meat, I find it crazy that here in Scotland the food stores buy in New Zealand lamb when we rear the best of lamb and mutton right on our doorstep.
Happy Easter!
Ettrick puffer
Let's not piss off @Ahi Ka who's a kiwi :D NZ lamb is good but I'm with you when I see NZ lamb in Greek supermarkets, ignoring about 3000 years of shepherding tradition! Now let's not start on Argentine lemons and oranges, garlic from China, and wine from South Africa.
 
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karam

Preferred Member
Feb 2, 2019
1,240
4,786
Basel, Switzerland
Of course forgot to mention the other half of a successful meal: the cooking.

I'll be taking it out of the fridge before going to bed - beers will take its place - and leaving on the counter to come up to room temperature. From experience it'll be cool, but not cold, in the morning. It's a big piece of meat so I'm not worried about spoilage.

Thinking back into my childhood I recall my uncle prepping whole lamb on the spit the day before, of course we couldn't refrigerate it at home, it was left in the kitchen wrapped in butcher's paper. He'd cut off bits of fat from the lamb and wrap them around a garlic clove and peppercorns and make little holes all over and stuff the fat/garlic/peppercorns in them. My wife's family, the Serbian way of cooking whole mutton is to literally bury it in salt 2-3 days ahead of cooking, then carefully wash it and put it in an outdoor, wood fired oven with a smouldering heap of wood and charcoal, then seal the metal oven door with wheat dough and cook it for nearly 24 hours. Divine.

Tomorrow I'll get up nice and early and I'll put this in the oven in a huge cast iron pot I have, at no more than 150C, then uncover it and turn the heat right up for the last 20 minutes. It is critical that this is done about 1 hour from serving, and allowed to gently cool down to just warm to maintain all the juices. Can't wait!