While living abroad, I often feel the need for Greek food, so when I go back to Greece for vacation, I always stuff my suitcase with all kinds of traditional food and drinks on my way back. Tsipouro (an alcoholic drink made from grapes) and kavourmas, which is one of my favorite meze have a permanent spot in my suitcase. They are a match made in heaven but usually they both run out really fast. Fortunately though, it is easy to make kavourmas at home, and so I did.
Kavourmas (or kavroumas) is a Greek cold cut meat with a bit of fat and added spices. Similar to many Greek dishes, the name originates from the Turkish word kavurma, which means to roast or saute. Traditionally kavourmas was used as a way to preserve meat without the need for a fridge. People living in villages used (and some still do) to raise their own pigs for meat. After they slaughtered the pigs, they boiled the leftovers and stored them in clay pots, covering the meat with fat in order to preserve it. This way the meat would last throughout the winter.
Nowadays, when everyone has at least one freezer at home, there is no need to cover the meat in fat in order to preserve it. However, since kavourmas is very tasty, people still make and use it for cooking. There are also multiple variations using different kind of meats such as beef, lamb, buffalo, and even combinations of them. Kavourmas over the years transformed from a necessity to a delicacy.
Although it consist from tasty meats, the true flavor comes from the spices. After some experimentation I ended up with the following: Salt, pepper, and garlic are the base to almost every Mediterranean recipe, and since I am a fan of spicy food, I also added chili flakes. The bay leaves and the allspice add a winter taste to the recipe.
- 1/2 kg Pork tenderloin
- 1/2 kg Pork chops
- 3 dl water
- 3 pinches salt
- 1 pinch pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 pinch chili flakes
- ~10 pieces allspice
- 3 bay leaves
- Clean and cut the meat into pieces.
- Put the meat, the water and the spices into a pot.
- Boil at low heat for about 4 hours or until the water is almost gone and only the fat is left.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool down.
- Transfer to a plastic wrap and form it into a tight tube.
- Wrap with baking paper and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
- Wrap the allspice and the bay leaves with a piece of cloth before putting them in the pot, to make them easier to remove after the meat has cooked.
Kavourmas can be eaten as is straight from the fridge, but I like it much better when it is combined in another food. Some of my favorite combinations are:
- Omelete: Fry a small piece of kavourmas in a pan until the fat is melted, and make the omelate in that fat, without adding any more butter or oil.
- Pulled pork sandwich: The meat can be used for a cold sandwich but it is better if you warm it up a bit in a pan.
- Pasta sause: Similar to bolognese pasta, but replacing the ragu or minced meat with kavourmas, saving some cooking time.
A couple of years back while in a BBQ we made a variation of Bouyiourdi (a dish with melted cheeses, tomatoes, and peppers) with added kavourmas in it. The result was more tasty than we ever expected, so I give you the recipe for this beauty as well.
- 1 thick slice of Kavourmas
- 1 thick slice of Feta cheese
- 1 medium tomato or ~10 cherry tomatoes
- ~6 slices of green pepper
- 1 chili pepper
- 80 gr aged cheddar
- 1 pinch oregano
- 1 glug olive oil
- Preheat the oven at 180°C.
- Chop half of the tomatoes into small pieces.
- Slice the rest of the tomatoes.
- Cut the cheddar cheese into small pieces.
- Slice the chili pepper.
- In a small clay pot arrange in layers the cut tomatoes, the feta cheese, the kavourmas, the cheddar cheese, the peppers, and finally, on top, the sliced tomatoes.
- Sprinkle with oregano and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake in the oven at 180°C for ~20 mins or until the cheeses have melted.
- Serve piping hot.
- When served mix everything in the pot with a spoon and try soaking bread in the mix.
- If you don’t have a clay pot you can use a piece of tin foil. Just make sure that you make it sturdy enough to hold all the ingredients when they have melted.
- Instead of cheddar you can use a smoked cheese or other kinds of cheeses that melt nicely.