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When we came across a news item announcing new and unexpected terms that had made it into the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary, we weren’t surprised — frankly — that a classic Greek dish had “made the grade.”
We consulted the online edition of the famous lexicon (available by monthly or yearly subscription) and here’s what the “OED” had to say about kleftiko:
Pronunciation: U.S. /ˈklɛfdəˌkoʊ/
Forms: 19– kleftiko, 19– klephtiko.
Etymology: < modern Greek κλέϕτικο, use as noun of the neuter of < κλέϕτικος of or relating to the klephts (compare klepht n.).
In Greek cuisine: a dish of lamb (typically seasoned with herbs and lemon juice) cooked slowly in a sealed pot or parcel until very tender; lamb cooked in this way. Also as postmodifier.
1968 Times 5 Jan. (Holidays Suppl.) p. x/3 Apart from kebab-meat‥you should try Kleftiko, lamb baked in a mud oven.
1973 E. Hunter Tree of Idleness iv. 52 Lamb Kleftiko‥. Did you know that is Philip's favourite dish?
1988 Capital (Annapolis, Maryland) 3 Feb. b2/1 Kleftiko. ½ pound lamb‥. Cube meat and sprinkle with lemon juice. Add salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and 2 tablespoons oil to meat. Seal tightly in foil. Cook in oven at 300 degrees for 3 hours.
1994 Observer 27 Feb. (Life Suppl.) 25/3 Roast lamb's head‥came in large slices which had (I think) been poached before being roasted, and the end result was warmingly dark and meaty—not unlike a very good piece of kleftiko.
2007 Olive May 104/1 Tuck into‥the great Greek comfort food, moussaka, and slow-cooked kleftiko, lamb shank that simply falls off the bone.
We were disappointed, however, that neither Xinomavro or Assyrtiko have not made it in yet!