EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater Christos recently published My Big Fat Greek Cookbook, an anthology of his mother’s recipes. Check it out today on Amazon!
I’m an accidental cookbook writer. A storyteller by profession, I set out to create a cookbook based on all my mother’s Greek food recipes as she entered the twilight of her life. For one year, I braved a series of intense hands-on cooking demos with her to capture an oral history of her gastronomical treasure trove.
The result is “MY BIG FAT GREEK COOKBOOK”. It’s the antithesis of those trendy Mediterranean diets, because most Greeks simply don’t eat that way…certainly not the Greeks of the diaspora, which numbers more than 15 million. We were brought up eating meat, stewed veggies, potatoes—big, hearty, simple meals from ingredients that our folks were accustomed to raising themselves in the old country.
Freshness and intense flavor are key. It’s what I call “legit rustic mountain village peasant food” from places where the wilderness is so unspoiled that it compels you to connect with the bounty that is…life.
Despite growing up in abject poverty in her native Greece, my mother was taught to never waste any food. And magiritsa (Greek Easter Soup) is the perfect recipe. It contains the entrails and internal organs of the “sacrificial lamb,” as well as greens and flavored seasonings.
It’s the opening meal that breaks the Greek Orthodox fast (Lent). Dense and filling, the soup is traditionally prepared on Holy Saturday evening and served right after Easter midnight church service. Yes, I know, the insides of an animal sound gross. But if you choose to be a carnivore, you must also respect the whole animal in its entirety, and not just the bits you like.
Remember, the lamb has been given up for you, so the least you can do is try this recipe. Besides, it would be a total shame to waste these precious parts.
Christos Anesti! (Christ is Risen!) is the customary salutation when you greet someone after Easter midnight mass. And of course, Kali Orexi! (Bon Appetit!)
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All photos in this post are owned by and used with permission from The Glutton Life.
MAGIRITSA (GREEK EASTER SOUP) RECIPE
Recipe by Evdokia Antginas (serves 6)
FOR THE MEAT
- 454g (16 oz) lamb offal (internal organs and entrails)
- Vegetable oil
- 1 small white onion
- 3/4 Tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsps olive oil
- 10 scallion shoots
- 5 leaves of andithia (curly endives)
- 5 leaves of romaine lettuce
- 3/4 cup Italian-style rice
FOR THE EGG LEMON SAUCE
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- chopped dill
- Clean and wash the offal thoroughly. Set aside.
- Bring water in a large stockpot to a hard boil. Add the offal and blanch for 5 minutes; this will “clean” the organs. Drain the meat and cut up the offal into 1-inch cubes. Disregard excess fat and any undesirable bits.
- Mince the white onion. Cut the scallions into 1/3-inch bits, the endives and romaine into 1-inch pieces.
- Sauté the minced white onion with a splash of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Combine the organ cubes and sauté for a few more minutes. Pour in enough water to cover the meat, and partially cover the pan. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Feed the pan with boiling water from a kettle, if required. Add in the salt, pepper and olive oil. Stir and cook for 15 minutes. Then combine the scallions, endives, romaine and rice. Fully stir in the greens and cook the soup for another 15 minutes.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a blender for 1-2 minutes, then trickle in the lemon juice. Slowly pour 3 ladle spoonfuls of the soup into the bowl, continuing to blend until the mixture fluffs up. Add the mixture into the pot, and with a ladle, carefully intermix the egg-lemon sauce with the soup. Partially cover the pot and leave aside for 10 minutes.
- Top with chopped dill, and salt and pepper to taste.
MY BIG FAT GREEK COOKBOOK
“MY BIG FAT GREEKBOOK” is now available worldwide on Amazon.com and it contains all of my mama’s delicious recipes that she’s ever made for us, bringing to light the real food history of the Greek working class. This cookbook is a testament to the meme of food as love: feeding her family—my dad, my three siblings, and me, the youngest—is the most meaningful way for mama to convey her devotion to us…a love letter to her for the sacrifices she made to give me the life she never had.
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