Lamb neck is wet-roasted to fall-apart tenderness, and a nutty
pilaf stuffing ramps up the comfort factor, while plenty of
fragrant dill, oregano and parsley add punchy flavours.
2 tspfennel seeds1 tbsp coarsely chopped thyme2 tsp dried oregano, preferably rigani (Greek oregano)½ tsp dried red chilli flakes5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh oregano, plus extra leaves to serve110 ml olive oilFinely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon, plus extra wedges, to serve2 boneless lamb necks (about 500gm each; see note), butterflied 150 ml dry white wine500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock½ leek, thinly sliced4 cups (firmly packed) coarsely torn kale (about 2/3 bunch)2 tbsp coarsely chopped dill and flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serveCrumbled feta, coarsely chopped pitted green olives and thinly sliced spring onion, to serve Rice stuffing1 tbspolive oil20 gm butter, diced30 gm coarsely chopped almonds½leek, finely chopped½ small fennel bulb, finely chopped1 garlic clove, finely chopped75 gmlong grain rice200 ml hot chicken stock2 tbspfinely chopped dill2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
For rice stuffing, heat oil and butter in a small saucepan until butter foams, add almonds and stir occasionally until golden brown (1-2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add leek, fennel and garlic to pan, sauté until tender and translucent (3-4 minutes), then stir in rice to coat and toast. Add stock, season to taste, bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover with a lid and cook until rice is tender, and liquid is absorbed (15-18 minutes). Stir in almonds and cool completely, then stir in herbs.
Dry-roast fennel seeds in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant (30 seconds; see cook’s notes p177). Transfer to a mortar and pestle along with thyme, rigani, chilli, half the garlic, half the chopped fresh oregano and 2 tsp sea salt. Pound to a coarse paste, then stir in 60ml oil, rind and juice.
Preheat oven to 160C. Open out lamb necks on a chopping board, scatter half the rice stuffing down the centre of each, roll up and secure at intervals with kitchen string. Heat 1½ tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add lamb necks and brown well all over (2-3 minutes). Pat dry with paper towels, brush with spice mixture, then place in a flameproof roasting pan or casserole with wine and half the stock, and bring to a simmer. Cover and roast for 1½ hours, then remove lid and roast until lamb is browned and cooked through (30-45 minutes). Set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add leek and remaining garlic, and sauté until tender and translucent (3-4 minutes). Add kale, sauté until it begins to wilt (1-2 minutes), then add remaining stock and simmer until kale is just tender (1-2 minutes). Stir in herbs and season to taste.
Cut twine from lamb, slice meat, scatter with feta, olives and extra herbs, and serve with braised kale and lemon wedges.