Hungry Greeks. Youlbassi.
Youlbassi(Γκιούλμπασι) is lamb wrapped into a parcel with greaseproof paper and tied up with string.
It is then slowly cooked in the oven.
Lamb is very popular with the Greeks and is also a favourite of mine.
They cook it in so many different ways in Greece but if I buy lamb this is usually the way that I cook it.
Apart from the meat becoming so tender that it just falls off the bone and melts in your mouth, it is so easy to make.
It is best to use lamb in the Spring or early Summer.
A frequent sight here is the shepherd taking his sheep to find any bit of green vegetation that they are able to eat,
Grass being quite scarce.
It's not unusual to see cars stopping for them when they cross roads, in fact I see this nearly everyday in Spring as a shepherd brings his flock down a little road that passes by my kitchen window.
Sorry all to all you darling little Greek lambs but I do prefer English lamb.
I'm not saying that it's better but it has a very different flavour to Greek lamb,
Probably it is what they eat, if you are not careful when buying Greek lamb it can be rather tough
Happy little English lambs.
Of course the main celebration when the Greeks go overboard with the lamb is Easter.
Every family has it's lamb cooking on the spit very early on Easter Sunday morning.
We are no exception.
My Granddaughter Melina was very interested in it!
I must say though, as tasty as roast lamb on a spit is, I enjoy it much more cooked as youlbassi.
So does my friend R, who visits us every year, again as with the moussaka, he puts his order in by 'phone before he arrives!
(see my post on moussaka here)
R brings the mint sauce with him!
I used to be able to buy it here in Greece but I haven't seen it in the supermarket for a few years now.
I have made my own very successfully with fresh mint from my garden.
I chop it up in the blender, add vinegar and sugar to taste.
put it in a screw-top jar, give it a shake and leave overnight in the fridge.
R wants Colman's though!
Here is a recipe for making youlbassi
You will notice foil is used here instead of greaseproof paper, I did used to do it the traditional way but it is just as good, and easier with foil.
Also your house doesn't fill up with the smell of burning paper!
This recipe is how it should be made.
Mine is not like this!!!
We do not like so much garlic and I don't like cheese added to it.
MGG doesn't want any herbs added.
So, I just buy two legs of lamb, season with salt & pepper, drizzle over a little olive oil, wrap in foil and put it in the oven.
I put it on a lower heat, around 180c, and cook for around four hours.
This way, it just drops off the bone!
Instead of the mint sauce, Greeks always accompany lamb with tzatziki.
I can never understand why people buy the ready made, bland, watery tzatziki when it is so easy to make.
I use a kilo container of Fage Total Greek yoghurt.
Finely chop two large cucumbers, skin left on, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the cucumber, I do this by pressing it down in a sieve over a pan.
For a one kilo of yoghurt I crush four large cloves of garlic in my mortar and pestle, with about a quarter of a teaspoon of coarse sea salt.
I bash and pound until it becomes a paste.
I haven't found a better way than the mortar and pestle for the garlic.
Add the cucumber and the garlic to the yoghurt, salt and pepper to taste and a drizzle of olive oil, give it a good mix and that's it!
He gobbled it up so quickly that I didn't have chance to take a picture of it!