Summer Escapes Part II
Taygetus Mountain: Sparti – Megalopolis
This is a local recipe from Lakonia and is a very rustic, traditional village recipe with rooster but it can also be made with chicken. Kokoras Bardouniotikos means Rooster from Vordonia area. Before giving the recipe I would like to tell you a few things about the Mountain and show you some of the pictures I took.
The Vordonia area is situated in Central Taygetus Mountain range. During our last trip to Sparta we passed from Vordonia on our way to my husband’s village, which is in Arcadia. It was the first time we took this route through the mountain range of Taygetus, as there is a much easier and quicker route to the village but was so worth it.
Just before entering Sparta from Athens, after the villages of Kladas (where we usually stay) and Kokkinorachi, passing the bridge of Evrotas River, you turn right to Loganikos. The route is on the left bank of Evrotas River and mostly paralell to the river. The Evrotas plain is full of orange groves but moving upwards on the lowest part of the mountain it is full of olive groves. Going up the slopes of Taygetus you suddenly realize that they are heavily forested, primarily with Greek fir (Abies Cephallonica) and black pine (pinus nigra) interchanged by forests of chestnut trees ( I have never seen so many chestnut trees in my life!!!), huge platanus and eucalyptus trees and of course cypresses, cherry trees, walnut trees, fig trees etc.
As you may see from the picture of the mountain below, the route is about where I drew the red line and is on an altitude about 800 metres, fairly low compared to the height of the mountain which is 2410 metres, but the view from up there is spectacular, mostly of the Evrotas plain, of gorges and ravines and right opposite is the Parnonas mountain range.
Imagine the view from Profitis Elias (προφήτηςΗλίας) , the highest summit of the mountain range, where you can see up to the sea. This peak has the shape of a pyramid.
Some researchers are convinced that this structure was carved by the hand of man, in remote antiquity, to form this pyramid shape. Others, however, believe that this is nothing but a natural rock formation. No erosion mechanism has been suggested (to date) which could create this shape naturally. Particularly curious are the strange shadows cast at dawn and sunset. It is said that in ancient years, Spartans built a temple of Apollo at the peak. A church of Profitis Elias can be found at the same place.
Taygetus is not only rich in flora but also fauna.The Taygetus flora numbers about 160 Greek endemic plants out of which 28 exist only on Taygetus and the fauna is rich in reptiles as well as in birds and mammals. Today its fauna includes 85 species of birds, 19 species of mammals and 33 types of reptiles, among which wolves, foxes, rabbits etc., but the most significant is the wild cattle, which the Spaniards want to take to Spain to breed their bulls. During the route we saw hawks and eagles flying but unfortunately I did not manage to capture them in a picture.
We stopped at the Springs of Evrotas, 22 km before reaching Megalopolis. We didn’t know about them until we saw the sign and as it was only 2 km off our route, we decided to check it out.
In fact it was very beautiful, with some swans and ducks swimming a very serene location with cool atmosphere, fresh air, shady, perfect for a short rest or a picnic.
Now back to the recipe. The recipe and the rooster were given to me by my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law makes it with potatoes and I think it’s a great addition and I made her recipe without changing it.
In the classic recipe there are no potatoes in it but is served with pasta, such as hilopites. The meat and onions are browned in olive oil before stewing and then it is simmered until cooked. In the end a lot of sphella cheese (or feta) and some kalamata olives are added and the combination of cloves and cinnamon is what gives this dish its unique Greek flavor.
This year I made it again recently, this time keeping it without the cheeses for me and making it healthier, without too much oil.
Kokkoras Bardouniotikos– Traditional Greek recipe
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time:1 hour 30 minutes
½ rooster (I used half which was 1.300 grams)
10 small potatoes or 3 big ones, cut into big pieces (optional)
4 medium red onions, cut into four pieces (or 12 whole smaller ones)
3 medium white onions, cut into four pieces
2 – 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
4 – 5 ripe tomatoes or 1 can whole tomatoes (500 grams), blended
2 cups water
1 tbsp salt
6 peppercorns, plus freshly ground black pepper
5 allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
6 – 8 cloves
2 bay leaves
150 grams sfella or feta (preferably aged), cubed
150 grams graviera, cubed (or add halloumi or more feta)
Wash and cut rooster into portions.
Heat the olive oil in the sautéing pan and sauté rooster on both sides.
Remove to a platter and then add the potatoes.
When you have sautéed potatoes on one side, turn over and add the onions and garlic and sauté them together.
Put rooster back into the sautéing pan and add the spices.
Add tomato and water and place the lid on the sautéing pan, lower heat to minimum and simmer for one hour and thirty minutes. (It may take more or less time depending on how old the rooster is).
If you are cooking on an electric or ceramic stove, turn heat off and add the cheese, mix and cook for another five minutes, otherwise do not turn heat off but continue cooking for 5 more minutes.
Serve while it is still hot.
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