Two Meaty Recipes for Carnival and Tsiknopempti

February 21, 2022

Aprokries or Carnival is the season of merriment and meat-eating before the start of Great Lent. The celebrations vary from region to region in Greece, but in general, participants dress up in costumes and attend masquerade balls and parties. The ancient origins of Apokries, literally saying goodbye to meat, are often cited by scholars as the Dionysian festivals celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The advent of Christianity transformed the pagan festival into the celebration before the strict fasting period of Great Lent. Roasted and grilled meats are consumed, especially on Tsiknopempti, the Thursday during Apokries named for the grilled meat smoke (tsikno) that fills the air. Pranks are often played, men dress up as women, and costumes and masks are worn by all those participating in the revelry. In Patras, the celebration lasts for days with concerts, a huge parade, masquerade balls, a treasure hunt, and other activities for children. The large parade takes place on Tyrine or Cheesefare Sunday, the last day before the start of Lent, and features fancifully costumed troupes and colorful floats making their way to Patras harbor where the effigy of King Carnival is burned to end the festivities. Rethymnon in Crete also hosts a large and growing celebration for Apokries. Enjoy the following meaty recipes for Apokries or for any chilly winter’s day when it might be too cold to grill outdoors.


Greek Pot Roast


2 pounds bottom round roast

4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes


1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

5 medium potatoes, quartered

1 cup Greek dry red wine

Cooked rice


Sear the meat to brown on all sides in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Transfer the meat to a plate. In the same Dutch oven, heat the oil, add the onion, and cook until translucent, stirring often. Return the meat to the pot, add the carrots, celery, and the tomatoes. If using whole peeled tomatoes, break them up with a wooden spoon in the pot while stirring them in, or chop before adding to the pot. Add enough water to just cover the meat. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally and turning the meat over, if preferred. Remove the meat from the sauce and slice against the grain. Return the sliced meat to the pot. Add the wine and the potatoes and stir. Continue simmering until the potatoes are tender. Serve with rice.


Marinated Stewed Goat

Dutch oven. Photo by Edgar Castrejon, via Unsplash

1/2 cup Greek dry red wine

1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

2 pounds goat meat, cut into one-inch pieces

4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon Greek tomato paste

2 carrots, chopped

4 cups water

1 bay leaf

2 medium potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces


In a nonreactive bowl, stir together the wine, salt, pepper, paprika, and crushed garlic. Add the goat pieces, stir to coat completely, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate for about one hour or up to overnight. In a large Dutch oven, heat about half of the oil over medium high heat and sear the marinated goat meat until browned on all sides. Work in batches so as not to crowd the pan, if needed. Transfer the browned meat to a plate. Add the remaining oil to the pot and then add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add the carrots, the water, the browned meat, and the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and continue simmering until the meat is tender about one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.


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