Sifnos is renowned for its ceramics as well as its food. Mastelo is the name of the painted terracotta pots used for slow cooking in wood ovens, and also for the dill-scented lamb braised in the pots. It is a dish for feast days, such as Easter. Using a home oven, I start high and gradually lower the heat to mimic the dying embers of the wood fire. Serve it with lemony roast potatoes; these are not roast potatoes of the crunchy sort, these are sticky and golden, with buttery centres suffused with flavour. The potatoes first become tender in the lemony marinade, then brown in the oven once the liquid evaporates.
With its intense aromas and flavours of wild cherries and spring flowers, Limniona Rosé 2018 from Domaine Zafeirakis will enhance the roast lamb.
1.5kg lamb shoulder, cut into 6 pieces (some will include bone)
Bunch of fresh dill
350ml white wine
FOR THE ROAST POTATOES
800g Cyprus or other waxy potatoes, cleaned
60ml olive oil
60ml white wine or water
1 large lemon
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Preheat the oven to 220˚C/fan oven 200˚C/mark 7. Choose a casserole pan or pot large enough to hold the lamb quite snugly – it should be deep rather than wide so the meat can be layered inside. Add 3 pieces of the lamb, season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cover with most of the dill fronds, saving some for a garnish. Layer with the remaining meat, seasoning again and finishing with the fattiest part on top. Pour in the wine.
Set the pan over a high heat to bring the wine to the boil. Cover with a lid or tin foil and transfer to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 170˚C/fan oven 150˚C/mark 3 and cook for another 2 hours.
Remove the pan, turn the meat to swap the top and bottom pieces, cover and return to the oven. Turn the temperature down again to 130˚C/fan oven 110˚C/mark ¾ and continue cooking for a final 1-2 hours. The lamb should be meltingly tender.
Leave the meat to rest in the pan for 20 minutes and skim the fat off the juices. Serve warm rather than hot, garnished with the remaining dill.
FOR THE ROAST POTATOES
Preheat the oven to 220 ° C/fan oven 200 ° C/mark 7. Cut the potatoes into halves or wedges, depending on size, and put into a large bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss well to coat.
Tip the potatoes onto a baking tray large enough for them to sit in a single crowded layer. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn the potatoes and return to the oven for 20-30 minutes longer, until sticky and golden. Add a final scrunch of flaky salt before serving.
This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK