Lamb from Messara with Tomato and Honey

This traditional wedding dish from southern Crete makes the most of local ingredients. Lamb with tomatoes and white wine is lightly sweetened with honey, considered in Greek culture to boost fertility.
Styling by Katherine Rosen / Photo by Meg Baggott

Vasilis Leonidou, Executive Chef, Kapsaliana Village Hotel

An award-winning chef, Leonidou holds culinary court at this picturesque hotel, olive press and restaurant. Set among one of the island’s largest olive groves, the hotel houses the estate’s original 18th-century olive press. Leonidou’s recipes are refined and offer international flair, and they make the most of Crete’s local ingredients. The recipe below is based on a dish from southern Crete served at weddings, where its honey is considered good for fertility.

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Ingredients
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Koroneiki, for frying
  • 2 pounds boneless lamb stew meat
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 ⅓ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Honey and olive oil, for finishing
Directions

In large sauté pan over medium heat, pour thick layer of olive oil. Add lamb and cook, stirring until it starts to brown. Add garlic, onions, salt and pepper. Cook until meat is browned on all sides. Add wine, and scrape up any browned bits on bottom of pan. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until meat is tender, about 1 hour. Drizzle 1 spoon honey and a few drops of olive oil to each portion before serving. Serves 4.

Tips

Leonidou suggests to serve with a side salad of boiled mixed legumes, bulgur, lemon juice and olive oil.

Published on February 14, 2018
About the Author
Susan Kostrzewa
Executive Editor

Reviews wines from Greece and Cyprus.

Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa joined Wine Enthusiast in 2006, when she moved from Sonoma, California, to Manhattan. Kostrzewa has written and edited wine, food and travel stories for the past 14 years, and oversees all editorial direction of Wine Enthusiast Magazine and WineMag.com, in addition to the tasting programs. Kostrzewa co-edited the Wine Enthusiast Wine & Food Pairings book and has co-authored numerous books on wine and travel in her career. Email: skostrze@wineenthusiast.net



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