A Greek Easter Feast
Photo credit: StockFood/Jan Peter Westermann
In the Greek Orthodox Easter tradition, it’s not ham that occupies the center of the table, nor is it rabbit: It’s lamb, often spit-roasted whole in someone’s backyard as the family gathers over the course of the day.
There are other Greek traditions, such as red-painted eggs and the voluptuous bread, tsoureki, but this year, with Greek Orthodox Easter falling on Sunday, the 20th, if you live in a Greek enclave, expect backyards to be full of the scent of lamb roasting.
Greek-American Charles Bililies is the owner of Souvla, a new Greek sandwich shop and wine bar in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. He has fond memories of his grandfather’s whole lamb Easter feasts when he was a kid. At his restaurant, Bililies serves various spit-roasted sandwiches, but for us he created a roast that has him nostalgic for childhood festivities. (A whole beast isn’t all that pragmatic for most of us.)
The lamb shoulder is rubbed with oregano and rosemary, garlic and lemon juice. A night of marinating gets it good and tender, and it’s popped into the oven right on top of what he calls, at Souvla, “juicy potatoes.” Since they’re in the same pan, they become “essentially sponges for all of the drippings,” he tells us. (And we love how fuss-free the cleanup is.)
Bililies also loves a clean, fresh Greek yogurt panna cotta for dessert, which is enormously popular at his restaurant. Laced with honey and topped with crumbled baklava, it’s light enough that you won’t leave your Easter feast feeling half-asleep.
The menu is an easy, breezy stunner. And even if it’s Greek to you, it might be worth mixing up your routine to give it a whirl this year.
All photos: Courtesy of Souvla
Roasted Lamb Shoulder and Juicy Potatoes
From Charles Bililies, Souvla
Note: Must be made one day in advance.
One 5-6 lb. boneless lamb shoulder
2 Tbsp Kosher salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
5 peeled garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
3 Tbsp Greek olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh oregano
5 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into in 1” squares
1. Place lamb in a large roasting pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Add garlic, olive and lemon juice and rub thoroughly on all sides of the shoulder until completely covered. Cover pan tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.