Epirus

Tallow (sheep fat)

Traditional Epirotic flavor enhancer made from sheep’s caul fat.
Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-Tallow (sheep fat)
Before cooking...

In the Epirus mountains, people needed their stock alive, so they rarely butchered them for themselves. When they did, they made the most of every part of the animal. In that spirit, the sheep’s caul fat (the thin fatty membrane surrounding the internal organs) was turned into thick fat and stored away for the winter. Homemade sheep tallow was a valuable raw material for their plain but flavorful cooking.

Tallow (sheep fat)

Ingredients

  • Caul fat from sheep
  • Salt

Execution

  1. Place a cooking pot on medium heat, put in the caul fat, and melt it until it’s liquid fat.
  2. Put the liquid fat in a bowl, add a good amount of salt, and mix. Fill a larger bowl (or a plugged sink) with cold water or ice cubes. Place the bowl with the fat inside, like a cold bain-marie, until the salted fat freezes. Store the frozen fat in jars and keep it in a dry and shady place.
  3. Use a small amount of tallow (like butter) whenever you want to add a unique rustic flavor to a dish.

Tallow from sheep caul fat may seem a bit crude for today’s culinary standards. Still, for the Epirote women, it was a great savory additive to their mostly meatless dishes.

After cooking…

Vradeto is a secluded picturesque village nestled on a rock between the Vikos Canyon and the Tymfi mountain range. Until 1970, its residents’ only connection to the rest of the world was via a 1,5 km long stone-carved stairway that took them to the neighboring Kapesovo. Today, the “Skala of Vradeto,” with its 1000 steps and 39 turns, is one of the most breathtaking hiking experiences found in the mountains of Epirus.

Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-After cooking…