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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rooster Ragu with Spaghetti (kokora makaronatha)

This is my first post for 2012 and I would like to extend warm wishes for a healthy and happy new year to all! Kaih Hronia! I hope you all had a fabulous New Year's celebration and are ready to fire up those ovens!
The days leading up to New Year's Eve were very tiring but in a satisfying way. As is expected, I as did like most and procrastinated to the very last possible minute, with a "quick" run to the supermarket, holding my mile-long shopping list for the big bash. Fortunately, Lady Luck was on my side and I got everything done without long waits at the checkout line nor any holiday "what-do-you-mean-you-ran out-of-butter?!?" drama that usually accompanies these days.
My whole kitchen was filled with pots pans and every other cooking gadget imaginable was spread over my small granite counters . This though, is the magic my friends, to be able to create on a empty canvas such textures and flavors utilizing every square inch of your brain, ahem, kitchen, ultimately ending up with a disastrous mess which in my opinion is a infinitessimal price to pay for such a lavish (and scrumptious) reward to share with friends and family (racking up the brownie points!).
photo from
New Year's Eve for me was spent at home hosting a party. I cleaned the kitchen (several times and of course with 5 inch heels), cooked for days, and then dined and drank with family and friends...right into the wee hours of the first day of the year. Perfection! 
What better way to send the old year out the door and welcome the new year in, if not with a delicious plate of food and dessert, and good company that provided laughs and memories. Helloooooo 2012!
As tradition has it in many parts of Greece, on New Year's Day, family gather and cook pasta with rooster in red sauce. Rooster is braised for a few hours in a rich tomato sauce and flavoured with spices, and is served with thick spaghetti. Did she say rooster? Yes i did, and I assure you that it is a culinary experience that one can not afford to miss.
So for my first 2012 recipe I present you with rooster ragu atop thick spaghetti or, "Kokora Makaronatha." Enjoy!

Kokora Makaronatha

1 (2kg or 4 pounds) rooster, ( or chicken) cut in serving portions 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cinnamon quill
3-4 allspice berries
A pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup of red wine
1/4 cup cognac 
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1kg (2 boxes ) of thick spaghetti with the hole in the middle 
grated kefalotiri cheese or parmesan
salt & freshly ground pepper

Warm the oil and butter in a wide casserole over medium to high heat and brown the rooster portions in batches. Remove and place them in a platter. Turn the heat down and toss in the onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Put the rooster portions back in and sprinkle with the spices. Wait 1-2 minutes for the spices to give off their flavours. Add the tomato paste and sugar and pour the wine and congac in, slowly. When the alcohol evaporates, scrape out the bottom of the casserole with a ladle. Add the tomatoes and just enough water to cover the meat. Put the lid on and simmer the rooster until it becomes tender, approximately for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2hours. Season to taste from time to time and remove the from the heat when the tomato sauce reduces. Meanwhile boil the spaghetti in salted water. Drain and sprinkle with a few drops of olive oil. Transfer in a deep platter and put the rooster portions on top. Pour over the rich tomato sauce and sprinkle with plenty of grated cheese.

if using chicken reduce cooking time about 30 minutes.
thick spaghetti with the whole in the middle is found at Greek markets. If you can't find them substitute with regular thick spaghetti.


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