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 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp coarsely chopped thyme
- 2 tsp dried oregano, preferably rigani (Greek oregano)
- ½ tsp dried red chilli flakes
- 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh oregano, plus extra leaves to serve
- 110 ml olive oil
- Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon, plus extra wedges, to serve
- 2 boneless lamb necks (about 500gm each; see note), butterflied
- 150 ml dry white wine
- 500 ml chicken stock (2 cups)
- ½ leek, thinly sliced
- 4 cups (firmly packed) coarsely torn kale (about 2/3 bunch)
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped dill and flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
- Crumbled feta, coarsely chopped pitted green olives and thinly sliced spring onion, to serve
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 20 gm butter, diced
- 30 gm coarsely chopped almonds
- ½ leek, finely chopped
- ½ small fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 75 gm long grain rice
- 200 ml hot chicken stock
- 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
- 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1For 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.
- 2Dry-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.
- 3Preheat 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.
- 4Meanwhile, 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.
- 5Cut twine from lamb, slice meat, scatter with feta, olives and extra herbs, and serve with braised kale and lemon wedges.
Rigani, dried wild Greek oregano, is available from select delicatessens. Order boneless lamb neck from your butcher.
Drink Suggestion: Earthy nebbiolo. Drink suggestion by Max Allen