Greek Lamb Braised with Tomatoes (Kokkinisto) Recipe
Kokkinisto, which means “reddened” in Greek, is also the name of this dish: meat braised in tomatoes or a tomato sauce. Lamb cooked in this classic style creates a rich, hearty sauce for serving with Greek pasta coated in olive oil and myzithra cheese.
What to buy: Greek macaroni has little in common with the popular elbow macaroni. Greek macaroni is long tubes of pasta similar to Italian bucatini, only larger. It can be found at Greek grocers or online. If you can’t find it, you can substitute fettuccine, bucatini, or orzo.
Aged myzithra is a goat’s or sheep’s milk cheese with a hard, crumbly texture and intense salty flavor. It should not be confused with fresh myzithra, which has a soft texture like farmer’s cheese. It can be found at some supermarkets (like Whole Foods), most cheese shops, and Greek grocers.
This recipe was featured as part of our Greek Easter Celebration menu.
For the lamb:
- 6 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder, lamb shank, or a combination of the two, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons Greek olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the lamb
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups canned tomato sauce
- 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons water
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the pasta:
- 1 pound #5 Greek macaroni, such as Misko
- 2 tablespoons Greek olive oil
- 2 ounces aged myzithra cheese, finely grated
- Generously season the lamb all over with salt and pepper; set aside.
- In a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed 6-quart pot with a tightfitting lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook the lamb in three batches (so as not to crowd the pot) until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, and measured salt to the pot, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir to coat the onion, and cook until the tomato paste is no longer raw-tasting, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, 2 cups of the water, and the bay leaves. Return the lamb pieces to the pot along with any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer over high heat, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Using tongs, rotate the lamb pieces from the bottom of the pot to the top, cover, and simmer until the meat is falling off the bone, about 1 hour more.
- Transfer the lamb to a serving dish and cover with foil. Keep warm at room temperature or in a 200°F oven.
- Strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Skim the fat from the surface (alternatively, you can use a fat separator) and discard; you should have about 4 cups of liquid remaining. Place the liquid back in the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 6 tablespoons water and the cornstarch and add it to the braising liquid. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Pour over the lamb or serve on the side with the pasta.
For the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes; drain and set aside. Using a paper towel, dry the inside of the pot.
- Return the pot to high heat, add the oil, and heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the pot from heat, add the cooked pasta, and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Toss the pasta with tongs. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the pasta, toss to coat, and serve with the lamb and sauce.