Lamb Baked in Delicious Thick Sheep's Milk Yogurt from Florina, Yiaourtotapsi Florinis Recipe

We are back in Mediterranean region with second helping from The Country Cooking of Greece (Chronicle Books, September 2012) by Diane Kochilas.

First serving from this book was Roasted Red Pepper Saganaki, a Greek mezze.

Lamb Baked in Yogurt from Florina, Yiaourtotapsi Florinis

Serves 4 to 6

In northern Greece 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. This dish comes from the traditional cooking of the Vlachs, at one time an itinerant shepherd tribe, and is sometimes called vlachiko.

2 tbsp extra-virgin Greek olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 lb/455 g boneless leg of lamb or goat, cut into 2-in/5-cm chunks
4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup basmati or another long-grain rice
1/2 cup/120 ml dry white wine
1 cup/240 ml water
Salt and pepper
2 large eggs
2 cups/480 ml thick Greek yogurt
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp grated kefalotyri cheese (optional)

323. Lamb Baked in Yogurt from Florina 2

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C/gas 4.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, wide pan over medium-high heat and brown the lamb pieces, turning to color them evenly. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften. Add the rice and pour in the wine and water. Cover, bring to boil, and reduce to a simmer. As soon as the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, season the contents of the pot with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until foamy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt and flour. Whisk the eggs into the yogurt mixture and stir in the chopped mint. Season lightly with a little salt.

Spread out the lamb mixture in a casserole dish with a lid or divide evenly between individual ramekins, about 3 in/7.5 cm deep. Spread the yogurt mixture evenly over the meat. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until the yogurt is set and lightly browned on top. Cover and cook for another 45 minutes, or until the lamb is tender. If using ramekins, check after 25 minutes. Ten minutes before removing from the oven, sprinkle, if desired, with grated kefalotyri cheese. Serve immediately.

(* Recipe reproduced with permission of the publisher from 'The Country Cooking of Greece' by Diane Kochilas- Chronicle Books, September 2012- Photos by Vassilis Stenos- all rights reserved)

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