Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

qawarma (or confit dʾagneau) is minced lamb preserved in fat from the tail of the fat-tailed sheep (called Awassi). Until not so long ago it was the main winter meat preserve of Lebanese mountain dwellers. Each family set aside one or two six-month-old, or younger, sheep—usually castrated males to safeguard the meat from bad smells during the sheep’s period of heat, or else sterile ewes whose flesh is not as tough as that of fertile ones. The sheep are fattened during the summer months and force-fed by hand with grain and mulberry and vine leaves. They are butchered after 14 September (the Feast of the Cross) when the weather becomes cooler, and the best cuts of meat and offal are removed and prepared for the feast which follows the slaughter. The fat from the tail is chopped coarsely and set aside whilst the rest of the meat (a third meat to two-thirds fat) is chopped in 2 cm (1") cubes, salted, and also set aside.