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Saturday, 7 April 2012
Ovelias –the Greek Easter Whole Lamb Roasted on the spit or "Souvla"
During the Easter holidays, almost half the population of the major cities of Greece celebrate Easter at their villages or at their relatives’ villages.
The tradition in Greece for Easter is to roast a whole lamb in huge roasters in their yards.The preparation of the lamb is usually a man's job. It’s not an easy job to do and of course the women in the family help out as this is not a one’s man job to do.
The preparation of the lamb starts from the previous day. It is washed, seasoned and tied on the spit so that it is ready early in the morning to go on the spit. It is then covered with napkins and it is left all night, vertically on the spit, to drain and absorbe the flavours of the seasoning.
On the Easter Sunday morning, people get up early in the morning to prepare the fire. Olive tree logs are used for the fire and they are burnt until it has become charcoal. The charcoal is then put in the roaster and the lamb starts to roast.
The lamb takes a lot of hours to cook but a lot of fun goes on while roasting. Usually music is playing loud and a lot of mezedes are served through the whole procedure. Quite often, people also prepare the famous kokoretsi, which is cut piece by piece directly from the spit. It never makes it to the table and disappears together with some ouzo or tsipouro.
the notorious OVELIAS
Ovelias – Roasted Lamb on the spit or Souvla
1 lamb about 10 – 12 kilos
Lamb Dry rub:
1/2 cup oregano
1/4 cup salt
1/8 cup black pepper
Ladolemono for basting:
1 cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
2 – 3 tablespoons oregano
The lamb is washed and is rubbed with a mixture of salt, pepper and oregano both inside and outside.Then the lamb is tied on a metal spit.The spit has to go in from the rear, through the body cavity and out through the head.The back legs are tied on the spit with a wire so do the front legs with the head.Also you must wire the lamb on the spit from the inside of the cavity around the spit and through to the back of the lamb, encasing the spit and the spinal cord so that it secured and it does not fall apart. The stomach cavity does not have to be sewn as it serves no purpose.
The whole roasting will take about five or six hours depending on the size of the lamb and at the beginning it should be placed on the highest level and once it is on fire it should be rotated continuously, at the beginning quickly so that the lamb will cook well all way through and not only outside.Gradually you can move the lamb downwards.You must not forget to baste the lamb frequently with the ladolemono mixture.The basting should continue until the lamb is done and the skin is crisp.
If the charcoals are about to extinguish, remove the lamb and blow air on the charcoal by using a hair dryer to light up the fire again.
When some of the fat melts on the charcoal the fire may light up, so just put it out by throwing some coarse sea salt on the fire.
There should always be some backup wood burning to add to the roaster, in case it is needed.
Depending on how many guests you expect, plan on approximately 500 grams / 1.10 lbs per person).