Well, I hate to break it to you after all this time, but I’m sorry to say that I’m a heathen.
Here I am, smack in the middle of Holy Week, where even those people who eat meat during the rest of lent typically fast, and I’m eating lamb. Yes, this is the week before Orthodox Easter and not only am I eating meat, but I’m eating lamb! I should be waiting for the delicious lamb on a spit that I will be eating plenty of come Sunday. But can you ever really have too much lamb? Meh, not in my book.
Arni Frikase or lamb fricassee is a very traditional Greek dish of stewed lamb with greens in egg lemon (avgolemono) sauce. Now, of course, there are many versions and interpretations of this dish, just as there are any other dish. Typically, though, the greens are romaine lettuce (marouli), but if you prefer spinach or mustard greens, or something else entirely, by all means use any combination of greens. Many people make this with green onions, but I prefer the flavor of leeks so I use them instead. This is often made with bone-in lamb or chops and while it is definitely delicious that way, I used some lamb I had in my freezer (stew meat from the shoulder).
I suggest serving this with some fresh bread to sop up all the avgolemono and a village (horiatiki) salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta, olives, and oregano with a few drizzles of red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Or, you could just serve it with some pilaf. Or what the hell, all three since we are being evil, anyway.
I’m hoping to have some updates for you next week, after returning from Michigan. Sorry for the sporadic posts as of late. To all my Orthodox peeps, Happy Easter and to the Greeks Kalo Pascha/Christos Anesti!
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1.5 lbs. boneless lamb, cut into 1-2″ pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
2 leeks, sliced
1 handful (2-3 Tbsp, chopped) dill
1.25 cups water
1 large head romaine lettuce (I actually used 2.5 hearts), chopped
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons – I actually use a little bit more because I like it lemony)
Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat a dutch oven/pot with a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the oil and when it’s hot, add the lamb and brown. Stir in the onions, leeks and dill and cook until they begin to soften and turn golden.
Add the water and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer about an hour or as long as you want for the lamb to get tender. Check periodically to make sure there is enough liquid.
Add the lettuce and cover again. Allow the lettuce to wilt down into the mixture, stirring occationally. Remove from heat.
Whisk the eggs together with the lemon juice. Add spoonfuls of the liquid from the lamb into the egg-lemon mixture, whisking continuously to be sure the eggs don’t scramble. Then, add the egg-lemon/broth mixture back into the pot, stirring again. Season to taste if necessary.