Chef George Pagonis for the Down Under 7 series Lamb Kleftico

  • Prep time 15Min
  • Cook time 15Min
  • Technique Roast, Bake
  • Meat Lamb
  • Cut Shoulder
  • Serves 4

by Chef George Pagonis for our Down Under 7 series


For the brine: 

Bone-in 4-6lb Lamb Shoulder

1qts Kosher Salt

5qts Water

5qts Ice

1c Brown Sugar

1Tbsp Fennel Seed

1Tbsp Coriander

1Tbsp Black Pepper

1tsp Allspice

6ea Garlic Cloves

Whole lemons

½ bu. Thyme

½ bu. Parsley

½ bu. Oregano

Bay Leaves

2Tbsp Dry Oregano

1C Olive oil

White Onions, medium dice

Carrots, peeled and medium dice

Celery salts, peeled and medium dice


For the filling:

Lamb Shoulder, meat from recipe above

1pint Shallots, sliced thin

½ C Garlic, sliced thin

2 C Kefalograviera

1 C Feta Cheese, crumbled

1 C Dry apricots, rehydrated then diced

1 C Pistachio, toasted and chopped

½ bunch Fresh Thyme, picked and chopped

½ bunch Fresh Oregano, picked and chopped

2 Tbsp Dry Oregano

S&P to taste



1 box of #7phyllo

1 lb butter: melted with a pastry brush


Garlic Yogurt

1 C Garlic


2 C Greek Yogurt

Lemons: zest and juice

Salt & Pepper to taste




Place salt, sugar, spices, garlic, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, and lemons in a pot with water. Put on heat and bring to a boil.

The remaining ingredients including the ice can be put into a plastic container and reserve. Once the water has come to a boil, pour the brine into the nice container. Once the brine is cool, submerge the lamb shoulder entirely and refrigerate for 24-36hrs.


Preheat oven to 475F. Remove lamb shoulder from brine and let dry. Lightly season lamb shoulder with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Place lamb shoulder on a half sheet tray with a roasting rack. Put Lamb into the oven for about 30 minutes, being to sure to get color on the lamb. Once lamb has nice color, remove from oven and turn oven down to 325F. Place Lamb Shoulder into a hotel pan with a roasting rack, add 2qts of stock, onions, carrots, and celery. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast in oven for 2.5 to 3hrs until the lamb shoulder is tender. Remove foil and put back in oven to crisp up skin. Remove lamb shoulder from oven and let rest for 25-30 minutes. Pull apart lamb shoulder using your hands, discarding tendons, bones, and fat. Reserve Meat.

Slice shallots and garlic thin and sauté in a pan with olive oil until they become soft, no color. Remove from heat and a reserved. Once all ingredients are cooled down, place into a mixing bowl. Mix well and incorporate all ingredients really well. Taste mix and adjust seasoning if needed.

Rolling the phyllo into cigars:

Unroll the phyllo sheets and stack them; cover with damp paper towels. Place one sheet of the phyllo on a clean work surface and coat it with a light application of butter. Repeat this step to build and coat a second layer. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the sheets in half lengthwise, then cut each of those halves horizontally into 3 rectangles of equal size, so you have 6 rectangles total. Use butter to brush three edges of each phyllo rectangle, leaving one long side plain. Spoon a tablespoon of the lamb mixture an inch inside the unbrushed edge, in a line parallel to the edge, leaving a 1/2-inch margin at either end. Roll the dough over the filling, tightly. Once it's rolled, use your fingers to gently push and fold in the sides of the roll. Keep the cigars covered with a damp paper towel. Continue this process until all of the lamb filling is finished. Once finished, brush a layer of butter on the top of the phyllo and put inside the refrigerator. Be sure to cool the phyllo down before cooking for best results.



Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place Lamb Kleftico on a tray and place in oven for about 6-7 minutes. Be sure to check the status of it and make sure there is nice color. Once it is golden brown, remove from oven.


Take Olive Oil and Garlic and put into a small pot. Place on heat on a low flame. Slowly cook garlic in olive oil until soft. Once garlic is soft and tender, remove from heat. Strain out garlic from olive oil. You can use the garlic flavored oil for other applications in the future. Chop up garlic, making a paste. In a bowl add roasted garlic and greek yogurt. Mix together well. Zest the two lemons and add the juice from one of the lemons.Season the yogurt with salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning and add more lemon juice if needed from the second lemon.