Another usual suspect that’s present at the Greek Easter table is Kokoretsi. It’s a rotisserie dish made up of skewering seasoned lamb or goat organ meat, wrapped in caul fat and then by yards of cleaned intestines. There are tavernas in Greece that specialize in grilled meats, rotisserie and serve up Kokoretsi all year ’round but for Easter, practically every Greek home will undertake to prep and serve their family their very own version of Kokoretsi.
This recipe is simple, straight forward as only salt, pepper and Greek oregano are the used for seasoning. What’s more important is the approach: clean your intestines well, cut your organ meat to about 1 inch pieces, wrap in the caul fat and then finally, the intestines.
One of the reasons why I love Greek Easter is that our cuisine shines it all it’s food dynamism. Greek Easter is a full-day affair…the lamb on the spit takes all day and as we all wait for it to be enjoyed, we nibble on an array of dips, dance on the fuel of Ouzo, wine and Greek spirit and sample the grilled array of meats throughout the day.
One such meat is Kokoretsi. For those that read my blog often, you’ll recall that liver and I don’t groove that well.
But, “why does Peter like Kokoretsi” when it’s full of organ meat?
Something magical happens with Kokoretsi. Could it be the sweetbreads that are skewered/alternated between each piece of liver/organ meat? Could it be the caul fat or the yards of intestine that are wrapped and contain this olden recipe that’s a fixture of the Greek Easter feast? I think it’s all of the above and a sure case of the sum being greater than all of it’s parts. I love Kokoretsi and I will always offer it for Easter.
(recipe update from April 2008)
the organ meat of 2 lamb or goats (I don’t use the spleen or heart)
the sweetbreads from two lamb or goats
intestines of 2 lamb or goats
caul fat from 2-3 lamb or goats
coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2 1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
dried Greek oregano
- It’s important to wash, rinse and clean the intestines as soon as possible after purchasing. Invert the intestines and soak in a bowl with water and lemon juice for a couple of hours. Repeat 2-3 times more. Our family also uses a wooden dowel and we pass the rod through every inch of the intestines before using.
- Rinse sweetbreads, and cut into pieces (no more than 1 inch)
- Rinse the remaining organ meat and cut all the pieces into equal-sized pieces (about 1 inch in size) and add into the bowl with the lamb sweetbreads.
- For this recipe, add about 2 heaping teaspoons of sea salt and 1 tsp. of black pepper, 1 heaping tsp. of dried Greek oregano and toss to coat and season all the pieces of meat.
- Thread meats alternately on your spit/skewer: one piece of liver then one sweetbread, one piece of lung then one sweetbread. It’s important that you alternate one piece of sweetbread with the other meats (the fat content will guarantee you a moist and delicious end result.
- To soften your caul fat, place in a bowl of warm water from your tap and allow them to steep for about five minutes. Remove from the bowl and place under your meats that have already been skewered. Your aim is to securely wrap the Kokoretsi with a layer of caul fat. Trim any excess caul fat and reserve and freeze for future use (Cypriot Seftalia).
- Drain and pat-dry your cleaned intestines. Tie the intestine near to or at the top end of the Kokoretsi and loop underneath and over the bottom end and wrap it vertically about 6-8 times (this step is important as it will make wrapping the Kokortetsi easier/less slippery).
- The easiest way to wrap the rest of the Kokoretsi is with someone to assist you. While your friend is turning the Kokoretsi, feed them a line of intestine and horizontally wrap the around going up and down the entire Kokoretsi’s length. On occasion, your intestines will break or end, simply wrap a new piece of intestine around some of the already wrapped intestine and continue to wrap until your Kokoretsi has been entirely covered in intestines and you’ve used up all your intestines.
- Place your Kokoretsi in a pan and make enough room in your fridge to store for at an hour. Tilt the Kokoretsi on a slight angle so that any remaining liquid may drain into the pan.
- Prepare your rotisserie over your gas or charcoal grill. You are looking for a medium heat (count to about 5 when placing your hand over the heat). Remove your Kokoretsi from the fridge, discard any liquid in the pan and pat-dry the Kokoretsi. Season the outside well with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and secure on your rotisserie. Cook for about 90-120 minutes or until the outer layer (intestines) are a deep brown colour and crisp to the touch.
- Carefully remove the Kokoretsi from the rotisserie and allow to rest until you can safely remove the skewer from the meat. Slice the Kokoretsi into 1 inch rounds and plate. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice, season with a little fine sea salt and some dried Greek oregano. Serve with some Ouzo, Tsipouro or a good Retsina, like the Kechribari.
- Grill slowly over medium-hot coals and, if using a rotisserie with a BBQ, place a pan with water to prevent burning or fat flare-ups. Slow roast on your rotisserie for approx. 2 hours or until the outside is crisp and brown and firm to the touch.
- Carefully slide the meat off the rotisserie and slice into 1 inch pieces. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice, sprinkle some dried oregano and serve as an appetizer/meze.
- It’s important to clean your intestines well and this is likely the most time consuming part of making Kokoretsi
- You must use lamb or goat sweetbreads (not calf sweetbreads) as they are smaller/more uniform in size with your lamb/goat organ meat
- Wrap the the intestines a few times vertically around the caul fat. Failure to this will leave you frustrated as the intestines slip and slide off your Kokoretsi.
- You may divide this recipe if your table setting is for less
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