Lamb ExohikoApr 13th, 2010 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Baking, Cheese, Featured, Greek, Greek Wine, Herbs, Lamb, Main, Phyllo
How would you feel if I presented you with a dish that presented you some of the favoured ingredients in Greek cuisine?Â All wrapped-up in one dish? You get spinach (check), you get tomato (check), you get green pepper (check), you get tender pieces of lamb (check), Greek cheese in Cretan Graviera (check) and it’s all wrapped up in a packet of phyllo pastry (check)!
Here’s a version of “Exohiko” where a parcel of food is presented to you at the table. Exohiko dishes can appear wrapped in parchment, in aluminum foil or in this case, phyllo pastry. Here, you get to eat the dish, wrapping and all. This recipe is for four (you need eight sheets of phyllo) which means you’ll have leftover phyllo. My solutions to you? Make more than four (up to ten servings) or combine this recipe with with another.
With the remaining phyllo, you could make a smaller Portokalopita or whip up a filling of ricotta, Feta and egg, mix and season and fill and make some phyllo triangles. How about about phyllo cups filled with a Spanakopita filling? You have options – the rest of the package of phyllo doesn’t have to go waste.
On to the lamb Exohiko. The main ingredient of this dish is the lamb meat. I used the meat leftover from the Leg of Lamb I made this past Easter. The meat was succulent, tender and very flavorful. Fully aware that you might not have leftover lamb on hand, you will likely need to cook up some lamb. My suggestion to you is to purchase some stewing lamb, cut into cubes, season and saute them in a little oil, add some dry white wine, equal amount of stock and cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until tender. Now you can use the tender pieces of lamb for you very own lamb Exohiko with leftover lamb or stewed lamb. Either way, make sure your meat is juicy and tender.
Your other components are the filling of spinach, tomato, green pepper and cheese. There are two options with your spinach filling, boil and blanche fresh spinach or simply buy the pre-blanched frozen spinach. Most supermarkets sell this wonderful convenience product and it will save you some time. Thaw it, squeeze the water out and then saute it with some scallions and add some flavour with salt, pepper, wine and chopped fresh dill. For the this dish, add the tomato and green pepper slices near the end to soften before assembling the packettes.
The final component of your filling is the Graviera cheese. Fine Graviera cheese in Greeece is produced in Crete, Mytilini and Naxos. I like a firm, slightly sharp Graviera that will melt but not disappear. If you cannot find Graviera, seek out a firm Gruyere or other sheep’s milks cheese that’s more on the firm side.
At long last, the filling is assembled inside an envelope of buttered phyllo pastry and then baked until just golden. Serve your Exohiko with a salad and/or some roast potatoes and “dinner is served”.
Here in Toronto’s Greektown or The Danforth, a popular eatery named Mezes of Rhodes has had this dish on their menu since it’s inception and it’s still it’s most ordered entree.
This recipe is adapted from a Christine Cushing Food Network Canada show and it’s courtesy of Sue Zindros of Mezes. They used chicken on this program but I went hardcore Greek with the use of lamb.
Lamb Exohiko (Î‘ÏÎ½Î¯ ÎµÎ¾Î¿Ï‡Î¹ÎºÏŒ)
4 cup fresh spinach, orÂ blanched, squeezed of water
OR 1 pkge. (10oz/300gr) frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed of water
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a shot of dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of green bell pepper
4 slices of ripe, firm tomatoes
8 sheets phyllo pastry
1/2 cup melted butter
Pre-heated 350F oven
- If you need to cook your lamb meat, season cubes of lamb with salt and pepper and place in a skillet with some olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides then add about 1/4 cup of white wine and about an equal amount of stock. cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 35-45 minutes or until most of the liquid is gone and the lamb is fork-tender. Finish off with a sprinkle of some dried Greek oregano, set aside and allow to cool.
- For the spinach filling (after you have squeezed out the water), chop it up and then place a skillet on your stove over medium heat and add your olive oil, chopped scallions and spinach and saute for about 5-6 minutes. Add the shot of wine, reduce and season with some salt and pepper and your chopped fresh dill. Place the slices of tomato and green pepper on top and allow them to cook for a minute or two. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Carefully remove your tomato and peppers and reserve in separate plate.
- Divide your meat into four equal portions. Have your filling arranged inÂ row of plates: sauteed spinach, tomato slices, cheese and finally your pepper slices.
- Preheat your oven to 350F (middle rack) and remove your thawed phyllo from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (15 minutes).
- Take a sheet of phyllo and lightly brush it with the melted butter. Now place a second sheet of phyllo on top of the other sheet and brush again with butter. Place your portion of lamb meat on the bottom of the phyllo, about 5 inches from the border. Now top with some sauteed spinach, followed by a tomato, a slice of cheese and finally topped with the green pepper slice. Fold the bottom section of phyllo up and over your filling, followed by folding the two vertical sections of phyllo over. Now roll the phyllo packette up to the top end until your packette has been completed. Place your Exohiko (seem side down) on your greased baking sheet. Repeat this step to assemble and wrap your other Exohiko portions. Brush the tops with melted butter and and place in your pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven, divide and plate.
- Serve with some roast potatoes and a seasonal green salad. Pair your Lamb Exohiko with a Semeli Mantineia Nasiakos white.
If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or atÂ http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.
Â© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis
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© 2010 – 2013, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.