Meat & Poultry

Lamb Bandit Style (Arni Kleftiko)

1.5 hours Cook
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During the Ottoman times, this practice of wrapping food in parchment paper goes back to Greek history. The Kleftiko dish is over 500 years old which arose out of need. In the Greek War of Independence, which spanned from 1821 to 1832, the Greeks fought the Ottoman Empire. During this time period, a group of bandits known as “klephts” developed a reputation for fighting the occupying Turks in Robin Hood-style battles. In order to hide, it was out of necessity that they used this cooking method to avoid being discovered.  By placing their food in parchment paper and cooking it in underground pits, no smell of food or smoke would be detected.

This parcel combines lamb, (or beef) mixed with herbs, vegetables, and cheese to create an all-in-one meal.  It makes a great presentation when entertaining and is delicious because all the flavors steam together to create a scrumptious meal.  

arni kleftiko lamb bandit style

Individual parcels are a great idea for entertaining because you can prepare the day before.

There are two parts to this recipe.  The first stage cooks the lamb.  The second stage combines the meat and vegetables and steams them in a parchment paper parcel.  

There are two methods of the first stage of cooking the lamb.  You can either do it on the stovetop, or you can do it in your Crockpot or Instant Pot.  This way, all you must do when you come after work, is assemble the parcel and bake it. 

Just throw all the ingredients for Step 1 into your Crockpot or Instant Pot:

lamb bandit style instant pot crock pot

Using a Crockpot saves you time, so consider this method.

The recipe instructions below also show you how to complete this on the stovetop.  Whether you cook the meat on the stovetop, or you use the Crockpot, you will still have to cool down your meat and prepare parchment paper parcels in order to bake them in the oven. 

How to make parchment paper parcels:

This type of cooking in France is called “en papillote,” translating to “enveloped in paper;” the parcel holds in the moisture to steam the food. Place your meat and vegetable mixture in the center of the parchment paper sheet and follow these easy steps: 

lamb bandit style arni kleftiko parchment paper

Make sure your meat mixture has cooled.

Place the mixture in the middle, and gather the parchment’s sides, keeping the ingredients inside. 

how to fold parchment paper parcel

  1. Starting at the top of the parchment and fold over once. 
  2. Continue folding the paper down until you are about an inch from the ingredients. This will allow enough space for the food to steam. 
  3. Fold the sides of the parcel in tightly.
  4. Crimp the edges of the packet securely to ensure that it fully closes.

Don’t overfill your parcel. It’s easy to fill your package to the brim with wonderful meat and vegetables, so if you discover it’s overflowing, toss it out.

Lamb Bandit Style (Arni Kleftiko)

Lamb Bandit Style (Arni Kleftiko)

This parcel combines lamb, (or beef) mixed with herbs, vegetables, and cheese to create an all-in-one meal.  It makes a great presentation when entertaining and is delicious because all the flavors steam together to create a scrumptious meal.  
prep time
30 min
cooking time
1.5 hours
total time
2 hours


  • Dutch Oven

  • Baking Tray

  • 4 sheets of 12in x 16in Parchment paper


  • **Ingredients for Step 1**

  • 1 kg/ 35 oz. leg of lamb, boneless

  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 2 Tbsp butter

  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

  • 2 Green onions

  • 4 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped

  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano

  • 1 juice a lemon

  • 1 Tbsp Aleppo Pepper Flakes

  • 1 Tsp Salt

  • 1 Tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • ¼ cup dry white wine

  • Water

  • **Ingredients for Step 2**

  • 1 onion, cut into quarters

  • 1 red bell peppers, cut into 8 pieces

  • 2 zucchini, sliced into 12-16

  • 160g Feta cheese, crumbled, divided into 4

  • 160g Kasseri cheese (Swiss can be substituted)

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Aleppo Chili flakes to taste (optional)

  • 4 sheets of 12in x 16in parchment paper


Wash the leg of lamb and pat dry using kitchen paper towels. Cut the meat into 8 pieces about 2-inch cubes, so each serving gets 2 pieces of meat. Set aside.
Add the butter and olive oil to your Dutch Oven and sauté your lamb pieces until browned on all sides. Add the parsley, dill, oregano, lemon juice, Aleppo Pepper Flakes, salt, black pepper, and wine. Add enough water to cover the meat.
Simmer partly uncovered on medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated, or until the meat is tender. This should take about 1 hour. Turn off the heat.
Now add the quartered onion, red bell pepper and zucchini and mix well with the meat and sauce. Ensure all the vegetables are coated with any remaining liquid from the meat. Let it cool for about 15 minutes. The cold vegetables will help cool the mixture down also. Don’t worry about the raw vegetables, as they will cook in the oven as well.
Now, let’s prepare our little parcels. Take 4 sheets of pre-cut (12inx16in) parchment paper and lay on your countertop. If it’s not pre-cut, then roll out about 16 inches for each parcel.
Equally divide your mixture into the 4 parcels. Each parcel should have 2 pieces of meat, quarter of the onion, 2 pieces of bell pepper, and 4-5 pieces of zucchini slices, depending on how thick you sliced the zucchini. See the instructions above for how to package your parcels.
Next, cover your mixture with 40 grams of feta cheese, and 40 grams of Kasseri cheese. Top with 1 tbsp chopped parsley salt, black pepper, and Aleppo pepper flakes to taste.
Place your parcels on a baking tray into 350 F degree preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Transfer to your plates and serve immediately.
Enjoy! Bon Appetit! Kali Orexi!


I have done this in small clay pots and served those instead of the parchment paper parcels. Also, if you are not following keto, you can buy store-bought phyllo dough; just butter 2 sheets and use the same way as the parchment paper to create your parcels with the same baking time.

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