Sunday, January 6, 2013

Telly Savalas’ Roast Leg of Lamb with Orzo

from my peeps

Telly Savalas’ Roast Leg of Lamb with Orzo

Telly Savalas, known best in the ’70s for his tough-cop Kojak character, spoke to United Airlines’ Mainliner magazine in 1974 of his childhood memories of Greek feasts prepared by his mother and aunts. One of his favorites from their repertoire? This lemony leg of lamb. Stuffed with garlic and basted with lemon, the meat takes on a mahogany hue as it roasts. Reprinted with permission from United Airlines, Telly’s recipe calls for serving the lamb with a tomatoey orzo. It’s just as good if you mix the orzo with the onions, meat and lemon juices, sans tomato.

Makes 8 servings
  • 6 1/2 lb. leg of lamb
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 medium onions, sliced very thin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree                                      


  1. Preheat oven to 450. Cut garlic cloves into slivers and with tip of sharp knife, cut incisions on the fat side of the meat, shoving slivers of garlic into each cut. Sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano over meat and rub in with hands.
  2. Place leg of lamb, fat side up, in a large shallow roasting pan and cook, uncovered, in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to 350. Scatter thin-sliced onions in bottom of pan and pour 1 Tbsp of the lemon juice over the meat. Cook for 15 minutes. Add another Tbsp of lemon juice, dribbling over meat. Pour the boiling water over the onions.
  4. Roast lamb for another hour to 1 1/2 hours, depending on your taste, basting every 15 minutes with the rest of the lemon juice.
  5. Cook orzo in boiling, salted water according to package instructions. Drain. Set aside.
  6. When lamb is done, remove to a platter let rest at room temperature. Pour off fat from roasting pan. Into remaining meat juices and onions, stir in tomato puree and mix well. Add cooked orzo, mix again and return to oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve orzo mounded under leg of lamb, or, in separate bowl.

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