The jovial warmth of Greek family gatherings is what Demetri Tsolakis strives to recreate at his Boston restaurants Committee, a chic dining and drinking hotspot in the Seaport, and Gre.co, a pita-filled fast-casual spot that opened in Back Bay in February with fast-tracked plans to expand: Expect several more Boston and out-of-state locations soon. That success is one more reason to celebrate at his mother’s home, where Tsolakis and a big, boisterous crew, including restaurant staff without local families of their own, gather around the table on holidays for first, second—and sixth—helpings of classic Hellenic cuisine.
1. Tsolakis’ mother immigrated to Massachusetts at 14-years-old, but still swaths her holiday table with a reminder of her original home. This handmade table linen was stitched by nuns in a monastery in Aigio, Greece, where she grew up. Recipes from the coastal town inspire menus at Tsolakis’ restaurants.
2. Tsolakis visits Aigio twice a year to find fresh culinary inspiration and stock up on native foods, from olive oil used at Gre.co and Committee to bottles of Moschofilero, a Greek white wine produced from grapes stomped at his great-grandparents’ vineyard.
3. While turkey is often served at Greek Christmas, Tsolakis says his family—weary of turkey after having the bird on Thanksgiving—instead opts for lamb, which is also a popular choice on saint-related feast days. This recipe was prepared for the feast of St. Demetrios, Tsolakis’ namesake, as it’s Hellenic tradition to entertain on your saint day.
4-8 pound leg of lamb
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
8 ounces Kasseri cheese, thinly sliced
Greek olive oil
• Preheat convection oven to 350 degrees.
• Clean the leg of lamb with cold water and remove any excess skin, then wash with the juice of four lemons and season with 3 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of pepper. Place the leg of lamb in a large roasting pan. Make slits into the lamb and then insert thinly sliced garlic and Kasseri cheese into the slits. Pour Greek olive oil and lemon juice over the lamb generously.
• Wash and scrub the potatoes with cold water and cut into quarters. Put quartered potatoes into the roasting pan with the lamb. Season the potatoes to taste with salt, pepper and oregano. Pour lemon juice and a small amount of olive oil over the potatoes. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook for 2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and pour the juice from the lamb onto the potatoes. Return the pan to the oven and cook for 2 more hours.