I’ve only been to Corfu once but I may be going again as I am one of the organizers of this Easter-time tour of Greece where we end up on the island of Corfu for Easter. The island is located in northwestern Greece, with Albania to the north and Italy across the Adriatic Sea.
Corfu is one of the “Epta-Nisia” (Seven Islands) and many of the dishes from this chain of islands have Italian-sounding names and the influence in the food is still evident. Pastitsada is a derivative of the Italian word pastizzada, a similar dish Venetian dish. I have also made this dish with stewing veal and it can also be made with chicken, octopus or seafood.
The tomato sauce here is aromatic, with the use of cloves, allspice and cinnamon figuring prominent. In Corfu, you can buy a pre-made blend of spices called Spetseriko and it was originally sold at pharmacies for medicinal uses. Today, many small grocers sell this blend which can contain up to nine spices (cloves, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, bay, nutmeg, cumin).
Pastitsada With Rooster
1 whole rooster/capon (broken down into pieces) or 3 lbs. stewing veal or beef
4-6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
5 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
3 bay leaves
3 heaping Tbsp. of tomato paste
1 cup of dry red wine
2-3 cups hot chicken stock
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
(optional) pinch of ground cinnamon
500 gr. of Misko #5 pasta (or bucantini), cooked
1 cup of grated Kefalotyri (or romano) cheese
- Season your rooster pieces with salt and pepper and heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven and light brown on both sides, reserve.
- Into the same pot, add your onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, allspice and sweat for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir in and cook for 2 minutes.
- Deglaze your pot with wine and scrape up with a wooden spoon to loosen all the brown bits. Add your rooster pieces back into the pot and enough stock to just come up the side of the meat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and cover. Simmer on medium-low on your stove-top or in a pre-heated 235F oven and braise for 90 minutes.
- Uncover and reduce for another 15 minutes to thicken the sauce. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaves and set the sauce aside while you boil your pasta. Remove the meat and toss the sauce in the pasta until well coated. Divide and plate and serve with a piece of meat and grated Kefalotyri cheese.
- Lay your pasta out on a platter and lay the pieces of juicy, flaky meat on top and pour more sauce over. Finish the dish with more grated cheese and the bay leaves for garnish. Serve with a Kir Yanni Blue Fox red.
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