Last month, we celebrated Easter and when I mean celebrate, we prepare a full-on Sunday feast with food being served from morning ’til night. You would too if you fasted from meat and meat by-products for a 40-day Lent period.
The center of the Greek Easter table is lamb (or goat) and nothing gets wasted from the animal. Greeks have done “nose to tail” dining for ages. One of the more popular Easter mezes are Kokoretsi, pieces of lamb organ meat spit-roasted with lots of lamb intestines wrapped around it to give it a crispy and tender morsel mouth feel (not to mention it’s delicious).
There are lots of other mezedes and I like trying out a couple of new ones each Easter. Last month, I made Tzigerokeftedes, kind of like Tzigerosarmades but smaller and without any rice in the mixture.
Tzigerokeftedes are shaped like soutzoukakia and the filling is made of finely chopped lamb liver, minced lamb (or beef), lots of herbs and seasoning. They are then wrapped in caul fat and grilled. The name is from Tzigeri (viscera) and keftedes (minced meat balls).
(makes about 25-30)
1 lamb’s liver
approx. 1lb. of lamb caul fat
2 medium onions, peeled and passed/minced through a box grater
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. of ground lamb (or beef)
2-3 slices of stale bread, soaked in milk and squeezed dry and crumbled
1 large egg
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2-3 tsp. dried Greek oregano
3 1/2 – 4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
- Place a medium pot of water on your stovetop and bring to a boil. Season well with salt and place your liver in and once it comes to a boil, reduce and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and allow to cool then finely chop and place in a bowl.
- Place your caul fat in a large bowl and fill with hot water. Allow the caul fat to soften in the hot water for 20 minutes.
- Into the bowl with the chopped liver, add the onions, garlic, ground lamb, bread, egg, paprika, herbs (parsley, mint, oregano) salt and pepper and mix well with your hands.
- Take a small piece of the mixture and fry-off to taste then adjust seasoning and herbs. Grab a tablespoon of meat and roll in your hands to make an oblong rissole (shaped like a soutzoukaki).
- Take the caul fat out of the water and pat-dry. Stretch each piece out on your work surface and use a knife to cut them into 4″ X 4″ pieces. Place a rissole at the bottom of a piece of caul fat and roll up the bottom, fold in the sides and finally roll up. Repeat with remaining rissoles. You now have made Tzigerokeftedes.
- Pre-heat your grill to medium. Lightly season your Tzigerokeftedes with salt and grill on all sides until brown on all sides and the caul fat has rendered.
- Squeeze with some lemon juice, sprinkle of salt and serve as a meze with cold FIX beer.
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