Kokoretsi is a traditional meal from the southeastern European country of Greece that mainly consists of offals, or the entrails and internal organs, of lambs or goats. The intestine is the most common item used. Cooking the dish also involves the sweetbreads, a culinary term used for the thymus gland and pancreas of animals, as well as the heart, kidneys and lungs. The kokoretsi recipe originated when people began to feel that they should not waste any part of the animal cooked during Easter time. Kokoretsi is classified as a starter dish.
To make the dish, the organs that comprise the main ingredient of kokoretsi are thoroughly washed, especially the intestines. Then they are cut up into little pieces and seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano, olive oil and juice from lemons. After the pieces are introduced onto a horizontal skewer, they are covered in a thin filmy membrane from the intestine, referred to as caul fat. This type of wrapping is meant to keep all the pieces in place.
Kokoretsi is traditionally prepared over a charcoal pit, although in modern times gas and electrical burners are just as common. Some people prefer to add chopped green peppers and tomatoes between the skewered meats. After the roasting process is complete, the kokoretsi is kept in a warm place, usually a griddle, for serving.
Greece is not the only place where kokoretsi enjoys extensive popularity. The dish is also eaten by people who live in the Balkans, a region that covers southeastern Europe and comprises other countries such as Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia. Kokoretsi is also identified with Anatolia, the westernmost protrusion of Asia Minor that mostly consists of Turkey.
The name of the meal, which is Greek, actually comes from the Albanian term kukurec. The Aromanians, who mostly live in the Balkan regional countries of Greece, Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria, call it kukuretsu. The Turkish people call it kokorec, which is derived from the Greek term.
In Greece, kokoretsi is available throughout the year, usually in small restaurants called tavernas. It is traditionally eaten during Easter Sunday. Some people prefer to serve it on a flatbread, garnished with tomatoes and spices. It is a popular custom in Turkey to turn kokoretsi into a sandwich by using thin loaves of French bread called baguettes, and on some occasions, cucumbers or pickled peppers may be served with the dish.