The smoked pork and goat’s meat products from the Pitsilia region were already regarded as delicacies in pre-Venetian times
Chrisostomos, Niki and Georgia Kafkalia are keeping the tradition alive. “I specialise in smoked meats,” the elderly man tells us in perfect English and accompanies us from his house in Potamitissa up the lane towards two low-rise stone buildings. He disappears into one of them, and reappears in the doorway a little later holding a chain of sausages. He then shows us into the second building and points to a long piece of meat submerged in red wine. “Lounza. On Sunday it will go into the smokery.”
Chrisostomos Kafkalia and his two daughters are keeping alive the Pitsilia region’s tradition of smoked meat specialities – a tradition that stretches back to long before the Venetian period. “When I started I only delivered to the neighbouring villages,” Chrisostomos remembers. That was in the late Seventies. “Then my daughters Georgia and Niki came on board. They made sure that our products complied with EU regulations, and began to expand the business.” The Kafkalia family now sells its products all over the island and exports them, too. On the counter of their little shop in Agros there is always something to try: tender, pale-red lountza, dark red-and-white-speckled slices of loukanika sausage, crimson chiromeri cubes – and tsamarella, air-dried goat’s meat.
“For our lountza we carefully separate the pork rib or fillet from the fat, cut it into a longish rectangular shape and leave it covered in salt for two days,” explains Chrisostomos. “Then we marinate it for up to two weeks in red wine. After that, the meat is hung up to dry for several months.”
“There is also a version that is smoked first,” daughter Niki tells us. The Kafkalia’s lountza is smoked for at least fourteen days. “We smoke our chiromeri for about ninety days at different temperatures,” adds Georgia.
Traditional pork sausages hang at the back of the shop against the rough-stone wall. “Fresh minced meat is the main ingredient.” Other important ingredients are red wine, salt, local herbs and spices. Stuffed into natural casings, the sausage meat is smoked and dried under controlled conditions. “Our tsamarella needs a week to dry in summer; in winter it needs twice as long,” Chrisostomos tells us. “We season the goat’s meat with plenty of salt and oregano, then we wash off the salt and dry the meat in the sun a bit more.”
Slow-braised shoulder of beef
A recipe by Franz Keller
1kg shoulder of beef
1l full-bodied red wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin, 4 cloves
3 bay leaves
5 allspice seeds
1 tsp freshly ground
some candied orange and lemon peel
1 lime and 1 lemon
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
3 carrots, cut into pieces
2 cloves of garlic
150g celery root
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp coarse sea salt
For the gravy:
1 tsp cornflour
4 tsp red wine
salt, pepper, chilli
- In a bowl, marinate the shoulder of beef in the roughly crushed spices and red wine for 24 hours at room temperature. If you leave it for more than 24 hours, cover the bowl and leave in the fridge. Allow the meat to drain well before cooking, saving the marinade. Place in the roasting pan with a little olive oil. Fry the vegetables in a pan and add to the meat.
- Now add the red-wine marinade with all the spices, along with the fresh herbs and half of the salt. Cook in a fan-assisted oven at 180C for around one hour, then reduce the temperature to 120C and cook for another hour.
- Remove the meat from the roasting pan, strain the gravy through a sieve and reheat. If required, thicken carefully with some cornflower and add a little more red wine as follows. Stir together 1 tsp of cornflour and 3 tsp of red wine (cold) and add to the gravy. Season with salt, pepper and chilli as required. The aromatic gravy can also be enjoyed as it is, without thickening.
Taken from Cyprus: A Culinary Journey by Rita Henss, Marianne Salentin-Traeger and Jenny Piening. Recipes by Marilena Joannides