Epirus

Lamb saganaki with spicy tomato

The typical traditional Greek dish with sheep meat and graviera cheese.
Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-Lamb saganaki with spicy tomato
Before cooking...

The saganaki is an ever-popular Greek delicacy made primarily by frying cheese in its namesake cookware — a small, shallow pan with two handles, also called “saganaki.” However, besides the original plain version, there are several saganaki dishes where the cheese is sprinkled over cooked seafood or meat to melt evenly into the sauce. Here, its aroma-rich graviera cheese melting over slow-cooked sheep meat.

Lamb saganaki with spicy tomato

Ingredients

You can make the saganaki with either lamb or mutton unless you can find meat from “zygouri,” which is Greek for sheep between 8-14 months old that haven’t reproduced yet. Zygouri has exceptionally flavorful meat making it an excellent choice for this extra savory saganaki.

  • 1 kg sheep meat (lamb, mutton, or thigh from zygouri), chopped into small chunks
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 clover
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 onions, grated
  • 200 gr graviera cheese, chopped into cubes
  • 1 tsp bukovo (or 1 chili pepper)
  • Salt (to preference)
  • Pepper (to preference)

Execution

  1. In a cooking pot, boil the meat in water for 7 minutes and rinse well afterward.
  2. Heat some olive oil in another pot, and sautee the meat, the grated onions, the clove, the cinnamon stick, the bukovo, salt, and pepper for 6-7 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and set the stove to medium heat. Cook for 40-45 minutes.
  4. When the food is ready, add the graviera cheese and stir until it melts.
  5. Serve the saganaki hot after sprinkling with extra bukovo.

This piquant sheep meat saganaki is the perfect main course for a winter meal and an excellent dish for summer feasts with local wine or tsipouro in a mountainous village square.

After cooking…

Some of the oldest Greek monasteries stand across the rough Epirotic landscape, in the middle of dense forests, alongside timeless lakes and rivers, or hanging from towering rocks. Many date to the Byzantine era, and several are still active to this day. In their stone-built bosoms, these age-old monastic settlements hide countless stories, historical treasures, and invaluable works of religious art, like icon painting and woodcarving.

Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-After cooking…