Having sampled the culinary delights of tender lamb served with Roast Potatoes and Greek Salad, prepared and served to us by welcoming Cypriot families I simply had to go away and try and recreate this simple but delicious meal.
The first step was to get a Clay Oven which in Cyprus/Greece is called a φούρνο (pronounced Foorno). You can get ready made ovens but I decided to ask a local Cypriot builder to build me one whilst I was in the UK, I returned a few weeks later to find in true Cypriot style an oven built for me in a `not quite finished` state, however I was so anxious to get cooking I decided to use it.
First of all out I went with some friends in search of wood/logs to burn, we came across on what looked like some rough land several branches of trees chopped us so proceeded to load them into the back of our vehicle, only to hear and see in the distance a Cypriot chap shouting out in Cypriot and gesticulating! We promptly put the wood back and drove off, guess they were not just left there but probably the product of some hard work sawing away in the heat. However, we did find some suitable wood and brought it back and lit the oven. Within minutes the oven was giving out a tremendous amount of heat and we proceeded to add our Lamb sprinkled with herbs, lemon and Olive Oil (Kleftico) along with Cypriot Potatoes basted in Olive Oil. Within minutes the lamb was sizzling and juices seared. In Greek, kleftiko means -stolen meat-according to legend, this dish would be made with a lamb stolen from a flock as it grazed on a hillside. The thief would cook the meat over many hours in a hole in the ground, sealed with mud so that no steam could escape to give him away.
We then sat back relaxing in the warm evening air sipping wine whilst our food continued to cook, every now and then checking to see the progress. The food was cooking great, however, we had a lucky escape when whilst checking progress the front of the oven came away with the door attached, we just managed to save it from falling by holding it up with a branch from a tree... guess we probably should have waited for the building work to be completed! Anyway the food continued to cook fine and we produced an excellent first-time Foorno cooked meal. Have got loads of ideas now to try out including tandoori chicken, fresh pizzas, nan breads and Bread Loaves. Just need to get the oven finished now, probably will be best to buy some cement/clay ourselves to finish it off... as being from England not used to the Cypriot laid back style of work!