A right of passage for Greeks during Christmas time is a lamb on the spit. The excitement of smelling a fresh “psitaria” as you walk up your uncle and aunty’s drive way on Christmas day is almost unmatched.
Though, as we all know the Australian bushfires have meant we are currently in a total fire ban. In order to assist in preserving the beauty of Australia, it is important that we all cooperate with the rules of the fire ban. Unfortunately for us Greeks, that means our traditional lamb on the spit is a no-go for Christmas 2019.
Total fire ban rules
“A total fire ban means no fires out in the open. That includes a backyard or courtyard, deck, balcony, public park, picnic area, reserve, beach or nature strip,” reports the ABC.
In short, a total fire ban means any outdoor barbecues, ovens or spit-style rotisseries that use wood, charcoal, heat beads or fuel are not allowed.
The plus side is, in most states around Australia, you can use a gas or electric barbecue during a fire ban! Under the conditions that:
- An adult supervises it
- There is no flammable material within 5 metres
- You have either a hose connected to a water supply or a container with at least 10 litres of water for immediate use
- The barbecue is located within 20 metres of a home or other private dwelling or picnic area
In this case, there are a number of delicious lamb alternatives that you can make on Christmas day on an electric or gas barbecue or oven.
Alternative lamb recipes
BBQ lamb cutlets with Mediterranean dressing
- Lamb cutlets
- Olive Oil
- Blend all seasoning ingredients together and pour over the cutlets. Allow to marinate for 1-2 hours in a refrigerator.
- Place on a pre-heated barbecue, turning occasionally, basting with any remaining sauce for 10-15 minutes or until cooked.
Roasted leg of lamb
- 1 x 2 to 2.5 kg leg of lamb
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- Fresh rosemary sprigs
- ½ lemon
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare your oven (190°C to 230°C).
- Using a sharp knife, cut 10 to 12 small slits into the flesh of the lamb. Push a piece of garlic and a small sprig of rosemary into each slit.
- Squeeze the lemon juice all over the lamb. Season with salt and pepper.
- To estimate the cooking time, measure the meat through its thickest part and cook for 1 minute per millimetre for medium. For example if the roast is 90mm thick, cook for 90 minutes.
- Roast the lamb over indirect medium heat for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours, with the lid closed, or until cooked to your liking.
- Once the lamb has cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Marinated Lamb Souvlaki
- 1kg lamb leg or shoulder, cut into chunks (35 oz.)
- 80ml olive oil (approx. 5–6 tbsps)
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 red onions, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp dried Greek oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme or some fresh thyme, chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 10 metal or wooden skewers
- Cut the meat into equal sized (3 cm) chunks and set aside.
- Prepare the marinade for the lamb kebab. In a large bowl add the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, the herbs and spices and season with freshly ground pepper – don’t add salt yet. Whisk all the ingredients to combine. Add the meat and the chopped onions and blend to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, chill and let marinade for at least 4 hours. It’s best to leave the meat for the lamb souvlaki marinade overnight, to soak up all the wonderful flavours.
- To assemble the lamb kebab you can either use wooden or metal skewers. For this lamb souvlaki recipe, you will need about 10 skewers, depending on the size of each souvlaki. If using wooden skewers, cut them to fit your griddle pan and soak them in water. (This will prevent them from burning.) Lift the chunks of lamb out of the marinade and thread the pieces, comfortably, on the skewers. At this point don’t forget to season your lamb souvlaki with salt.
- Heat a grill, barbecue or griddle pan and cook the lamb kebab for about 10-15 minutes, until cooked to your liking.