After your 40 day fasting (...Mmmm) you could be forgiven for wanting to eat anything that used to move on four legs before it made it to your plate. So, what better treat that the infamous Kokoretsi, that the EU attempted to ban....?
Together with roast lamb and red dyed eggs, “kokoretsi” -- a roll of lamb’s offal wrapped in the intestines and roasted on a spit beside the lamb -- completes the basic Greek Orthodox Easter menu triad.
Greeks love their kokoretsi and often prefer it to the roast lamb itself but it is a very fiddly dish that takes hours to prepare and is also very messy, especially as you have to clean the intestines thoroughly-- not a pretty task -- and chop up the sweetbreads, heart, lungs and/or kidneys of the lamb or kid.
If you haven’t got the time to go to the trouble of making your own kokoretsi or you don’t have a spit on which to roast it, chef Nena Ismyrnoglou suggests a variation on the traditional recipe, in which the offal is fried with oregano and dill, while Myrsini Lambraki makes a meal of it and serves the offal in a presentable rice mold.
If you are cooking your kokoretsi on the spit, Ismyrnoglou suggests that you flavor the offal mix before with a little bit of fennel or marjoram to give it a fresher taste.
If you have already cleaned the intestines the night before, this a dish you can throw together quickly in the morning and serve while you wait for the lamb to cook. You can also skip the intestines all together but if you do so, make the recipe with the innards of a sheep rather than a suckling lamb or goat, as you’ll get more meat. Add more innards and some fried potatoes, and you have a full meal that can be served all year round.
Innards of one goat or lamb,
cleaned and washed thoroughly
400 gr sheep’s intestines,
cleaned and washed thoroughly
6 spring onions (the root and the leaves), finely chopped
150 ml olive oil
3/4 cup regular flour
Salt and pepper
2 lemons, one juiced, one quartered
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves,
finely chopped or dried
1/3 of a bunch of dill, finely chopped and without the stalks
After washing the intestines thoroughly, cut with kitchen scissors into 2-centimeter pieces. Wash again and strain in a colander. Wash the innards and allow them to dry before chopping roughly into bite-sized chunks. Put the flour on a plate beside your stove and the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Flour the innard pieces well, shaking off the excess. Once the oil is hot, throw in all the meat, one piece at a time so the oil doesn’t spill over, as well as the intestines. Cook over a high or medium heat for about 3 minutes and then add the spring onions, salt and pepper. Cook another 4-5 minutes, mixing well. Add the oregano, dill and lemon juice, allow to boil for 1-2 minutes and switch off the heat. Serve on a platter garnished with lemon wedges.
Kokoretsi in a rice mold
Ingredients (serves 6)
For the kokoretsi
1 kg sheep’s innards, thoroughly cleaned and washed
1 kg sheep’s intestines, thoroughly cleaned and washed
1 large onion, peeled, pierced
with a piece of clove
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp olive oil
For the rice
500 gr parboiled or basmati rice
6 cups chicken broth or water
2 tbsp dill, finely chopped, without the stalks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
After washing the innards and intestines well, place in a large pot of salted water with the onion and clove. Slow boil for 20 minutes and strain well in a colander. Throw out the onion and once the meat has cooled down, chop it finely. In another saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the meat over a medium heat until browned. Add the garlic and oregano and then the wine, salt and pepper. Cook for another 6-7 minutes, remove from the heat and leave to rest while you prepare the rice.
For the rice, in a separate pot, boil the stock or water, add the rice and cover. Simmer over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes if using parboiled rice or 12-14 minutes if using basmati. Remove from the heat, place a kitchen towel between the pot and the lid and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Build up the sides of a small metal mold or a bowl with the rice, leaving space for the meat. One way to do this is to push the rice into the mold using a smaller bowl or cup without a handle. Fill the hollow with the meat filling and cover with rice, pressing it down with a small plate to remove any excess air. Place a serving plate over it, and turn it upside down. Then repeat until you have the desired number of servings. Serve with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and dill.