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|Region or state||Balkans, Asia Minor|
|Main ingredients||Lamb or goat intestines, offal (sweetbreads, hearts, lungs or kidneys)|
Kokoreç or Kokoretsi is a dish of the Balkans and Anatolia consisting mainly of lamb or goat intestines, often wrapping seasoned offal, including sweetbreads, hearts, lungs or kidneys. The intestines of suckling lambs are preferred.
The ingredients are sliced and seasoned with lemon, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper. The intestine is cleaned especially thoroughly. The filling meats are threaded onto a long skewer and wrapped with the intestine to hold them together.
Kokoretsi is usually roasted on a horizontal skewer over a charcoal, gas, or electrical burner.
A quite different preparation mixes the chopped innards with chopped tomatoes and green peppers, and then cooks them on a large griddle with hot red pepper and oregano added. The cook constantly mixes and chops the mixture using two spatulas. When done, the dish is kept warm aside on the griddle until someone orders a serving.
The cooked kokoretsi is chopped, sprinkled with oregano, and served on a plate.
It may also (especially in Turkey) be served in half a baguette or in a sandwich bun, plain or garnished, almost always with oregano and red pepper.
In Turkey, common side dishes are pickled peppers or cucumbers.
National and regional
Kokoreç is one of the most consumed fast foods in Turkey.
Most of it is prepared, cooked and sold in little kiosks and it is a very spicy (albeit not hot) dish, always consumed as white bread sandwich. It can be found throughout the year in these kiosks, it is very cheap for the amount you buy and is also a fairly clean meal. This combination of cheapness, good taste, white bread and commonness make it a perfect quick fast food meal for when one is out of the pubs late in the night. It is a very traditional and fairly easy to prepare food, therefore it is nearly always as tasty as it can get throughout the big cities in Turkey regardless of location. However, some restaurants have managed to rise above the norms, Istanbul's "Sampiyon Kokorec" is an example here, by adding unique tastes, bread, or preparation methods. It is highly recommended that the first tasting of this meal is done in a known location that is clean, where you know it is prepared with care.
Kokoretsi is occasionally available in restaurants, ouzeris and tavernas year round in Greece, but for the most part it remains a festival dish ordinarily prepared only once a year at home during Orthodox Easter celebrations when it is traditional for Greek families to spit-roast an entire lamb. It serves as a "meze" or appetizer and helps allay the hunger of the celebrants while the whole lamb roasts.
There are an infinite number of variations in seasonings from region to region and family to family, many having "secret" recipes, but the basic preparation of a kokoretsi remains the same; the "pluck", heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, fat and sweetbreads are removed from the lamb, washed and then cut into 1/2" to 3/4" thick slices and lightly seasoned with salt, black pepper, oregano and sometimes garlic. The pieces of raw meat are then alternately threaded onto a spit about as long as that used for the lamb so that they may both be roasted alongside one another. Any other desired seasonings are ordinarily added at this point.
The intestine, which has been turned inside out and carefully washed, is rubbed thoroughly with coarse salt and then soaked in vinegar or lemon juice and water for a short time. One end of the cleaned intestine is then tied to the spit and while one person holds the spit horizontally in both hands and rotates it, another "feeds" the prepared intestine onto the skewered meats from one end to the other and back, forming a compact roll usually about 16"-24" long by 1 1/2" to 3" in diameter. The free end of the intestine is tied off to the skewer and the completed roll is placed over coals to roast alongside the lamb and occasionally basted with lemon and olive oil. When well done, the skewer is removed, the kokoretsi cut in thick slices about the width of a finger and served as an appetizer with more lemon, oregano and typically accompanied by wine, raki, or ouzo.
Due to outbreak of mad cow disease in the late 90's, banning the consumption of offal was considered. However, the idea was abandoned.
Gardouba (γαρδούμπα) or gardoubakia (γαρδουμπάκια) is a variant of kokoretsi, but roasted in a pan in an oven, instead of over an open fire.
- Γ. Μπαμπινιώτης (Babiniotis), Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας, Δεύτερη Έκδοση, Athens, 2002