Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Kokoretsi..offal in all its scrumptious glory

Kokoretsi is a long spit of offal wrapped with sheep or goat's intestines.  Those of you who would not usually eat  liver or heart or lung or other unmentionables from any kind of animal should just try a little of this spit roast delicacy.  The innards around the outside are cooked to a crisp and the pieces of offal inside are deliciously seasoned with oregano, thyme, lemon juice and olive oil with  salt and pepper.  It is best eaten hot straight off the spit with lashings of tzatziki and village bread and a glass of rough red wine.  You certainly should try at least a small morsel. 

Metres and metres of  intestines ready for their difficult cleaning.  Sometimes the intestines are turned inside out and cleaned, then soaked in lemon juice.  My mother-in-law patiently and painstakingly turned them inside out with the use of a small stick.  Now K attaches one end to the tap and lets a flow of water clean the insides out.

The apprentice learning the tiresome job of washing intestines

Thirsty work.  Time for a break and a few cans of 'Fix'.

Offal, also called 'variety meats'??  Sweatbreads. Internal organs.  Entrails.  This is it, cut into large pieces, washed and ready to be threaded onto the long skewer.

The master at work, pushing the chunks of offal one by one onto the spit

The trainee gives it a go.

Starting to weave the intestines around the meat. This long thread of innards holds the meat together and keeps the insides moist and succulent.  

Every part of the meat has to be covered by the intestines.  No little bits are allowed to be poking out.

The intestines are in small lengths and when one piece  comes to an end it is knotted on to the next piece.

The roll is basted regularly with olive oil and lemon juice. This is ready for tasting and small chunks will be chopped off the ends to be tested for succulence and edibility  as the meat starts to sizzle.  This is an 'unavoidable' part of the cooking and has to be accompanied by a few more cans of beer to wash down the 'test sample'.

Kokoretsi of course originates from ancient times and sacrifices to the gods.  A similar dish is found all over the Balkans and Turkey.  In Greece it is one of the meats that we eat at easter but also on many other festive occasions.  Nowadays it is possible to buy a small roll in the butcher's shop which can be cooked in the oven.  Hardly the same however and the men miss out on all that long tradition of preparation,  the discussions of kokoretsis in days gone by,  the appraisal, the testing, the accompaning greek music, dancing, the enjoyment and good cheer of company.

At easter the kokoretsi is supposed to be a starter but every year it is the first meat to be taken down from the spit and we have just about devoured it all by the time the lamb or goat is taken down and cut up for the table.  We always manage  a plate of easter lamb as a follow up  but every year vow, in vain, to have the kokoretsi as a small meze and wait for the main course.


  1. Ive never had it. I suppose it's just too hard to make here in Australia. I'm not big on offal. But it does sound nice. And anything done on a spit is always yummy. And yes. For Greeks it's never just about the food. It's about th celebration of life that goes with it. Kali orexi

    1. You obviously know all about these greeks lol! Have you got Greek roots? My nz family were going to try and make kokoretsi. Don't know where they'd get the intestines but they do live in farming country. You definitely need 'kefi' to make it