My parents (both from the the northern Prefecture of Florina) recall when the family pig was slaughtered. Nothing went to waste. The whole pig was used from snout to tail to hoof…everything but the pig’s squeal.
Up until yesterday, Greece has been enjoying some mild temperatures (even by Greece’s standards). I saw Greeks sitting and supping at the tavernas but not indoors. They were seen & heard dining and drinking at the tables situated outside tavernas!
This dish is a Greek classic: pork with celery and leeks. All three ingredients abundant in the winter. The pork, fresh from the slaughter; leeks and celery, two vegetables that flourish in the Greek winter.
For this dish, I like using lean pork loin, sliced into 1/2 inch servings and pounded into thin cutlets. Leeks provide the bottom end of the flavour, the celery chimes in on the mid-range and the dried Greek oregano and fresh dill round out this symphony of flavours.
I’m also using lemon peel. I want the lemon flavour without excessive tang. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end is all that’s needed.
Finally, smoked paprika. One of my favourite items in the pantry. I used to have to get my smoked paprika from the farmer’s market (each Monday) that passed through my dad’s hometown (Amynteon) until last year. I found a source of Greek, YES Greek smoked paprika at the Kapani central market in Thessaloniki.
Pork With Leeks & Celery
1lb. of pork loin, cut into 1/2 inch slices
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
1/2 cup Greek extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks (white part), rinsed well/rid of any dirt/grit and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
peel of 1/2 lemon, sliced + its juice (use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock
1 red shepherd sweet pepper (Florinis), sliced into rings
4 Pepporincini, pickled green peppers, sliced
1 tsp. smoked paprika
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
2 tsp. chopped fresh dill
- Rinse and pat-dry your pork. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and place between two pieces of cling-wrap and pound out into 1/2 cm. cutlets. Season with salt and pepper and lightly dredge in all-purpose flour.
- Place a large skillet on your stove-top over medium heat and sprinkle some flour to test if the oil is hot enough. Brown your pork for a couple of minutes a side and reserve.
- Into the same skillet, add your vegetables (leeks, celery, red peppers, peperoncini), smoked paprika and sliced lemon peel and allow to sweat for a couple of minutes while stirring. Now add your stock, white wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
- Now add your pork cutlets back into the skillet – nestled into the sauce. There should be enough sauce to just come-up to the sides of the pork. Add some more water or stock if needed. Cover and bring to a boil. Now reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30-35 minutes. Check halfway through for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
- Your sauce should have thickened by now. Take off the heat, check for seasoning and adjust. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and your dried Greek oregano and chopped fresh dill.
- Serve with some garlic mashed potatoes, some steamed broccoli tossed in olive oil and lemon juice and serve with a Vatistas Petroulianos white. Don’t forget that crusty bread!
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