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Jim Botsacos' Magiritsa
Executive Chef, Molyvos, New York NY

This dish is truly authentic. It's the first thing Greeks must eat to break the Easter fast. According-to tradition, families return home or to restaurants after midnight mass on Easter Sunday (which is-really 12:30 AM on Sunday), when the Magarista is served . This may be served along with trays-of lamb's brains and chunks of lamb, vegetables, potatotes, and such , followed by light salads and-the customary breads.

Yield: 4-6 servings


To prepare the innards

  • 10 oz. uncooked sweetbreads
  • 6 oz. uncooked lamb's intestines
  • the juice of 2 lemons plus 2 Tbls. lemon juice
  • kosher salt
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1 leek, trimmed of root end,
  • layers spread, sand removed under
  • running water and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Cover the sweetbreads with cold water, add the juice of one lemon and a pinch of salt. Cover and-refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Drain and set sweetbreads aside. To a large sauce pot, add 2 quarts of-water, the carrot,celery, leek, bay leaves, peppercorns and white wine. Add a generous pinch of slat-and bring water to a simmer. Cook 25 minutes, then add sweetbreads. Poach sweetbreads until-slightly firm to the touch and white in color, about 8 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pot to a-large mixing bowl, set into a larger bowl filled with ice. Let cool, then separate sweetbreads into-small lobes. Reserve. Rinse intestines under cold running water to remove any impurities. Cover with cold water, add the-juice of one lemon and a pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Drain. Place intestines-in sauce pot, cover with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring water to a simmer. Poach for 2-minutes, drain and set aside to cool. When cooled, tie intestines into knots and cut each into 1/2"-pieces. Set aside.

To prepare the soup

  • 2 Tbls. olive oil
  • 3 cups peeled and finely diced onion, from 2 medium
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions (both green and white)
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 quarts plus 2 cups hot stock (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice
  • 3 Tbls. fresh chopped dill
  • 3 Tbls. chopped parsley
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, thinly sliced into 2-3" segments, as in chiffonade
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 6 Tbls. lemon juice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place a stock pot over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. When warm, add the onion, and cook-until soft and translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add half of the scallions, stir, add the flour, and blend well. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add 2 quarts of stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer-for 10 minutes, frequently skimming the impurities. Add rice and cook until tender, 12-15 minutes. Add sweetbreads and intestines and cook 5 minutes. Add dill, remaining scallions, parsley and-romaine lettuce and simmer another 2 minutes.
In a separate stainless steel bowl, whip eggs until pale yellow. Add lemons juice and cornstarch and-continue whipping to incorporate. Add remaining 2 cups of hot stock slowly to egg mixture. When-blended and smooth, slowly add this mixture to the soup, stirring constantly so the eggs don't scramble or curdle. Ladle into heated bowls and serve with platter of meat removed from the lamb's head,steamed vegetables and potatotes.

To make the stock:

  • 2 lamb's heads, cut in half, brains removed and reserved for meze
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 lb. lamb bones
  • cheesecloth and kitchen string
  • 1 bunch of parsley, stems removed and tied, reserve leaves for another use
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium white onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped

Method: Place lamb's heads in a large pot and cover with water. Add the lemon juice and salt, cover and-refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Drain and transfer lamb's heads to large colander or strainer. Rinse under-cold running water until water runs clear. Let stand to drain.╩Meanwhile, make a sachet, cut a 6" square of cheesecloth and place the parsley stems, peppercorns and bay leaves in the center. Tie it closed with string and set aside. In a large, heavy gauge pot, place the lamb's head and the bones. Add enough cold water so the-level is two inches above the bones, place on high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and skim any impurities from the top of the stock. Add the sachet, onions, carrots and celery. Simmer until the meat on the lamb's head is tender, about 2 hours. Remove the head and set aside (you may remove the meat to serve alongside the Magarista). Continue simmering the stock for another hour to fully develop flavor. Strain and reserve stock for soup.

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