There’s a Constantinople dish from around 1900 called Gioulbasi. Traditionally, a leg of lamb is studded with garlic and stuffed with pieces of sharp, aged Greek cheese. The meat is wrapped in parchment paper and slowly roasted until the meat is fork-tender, aromatic and about to fall off the bone. In mainland Greece there are many variations on this Constantinople favourite and I’ve also been intrigued by the use of pork for making Gioulbasi. One could use a whole pork loin, just make sure you brine it over night or…use one of pet pork cuts, the butt (shoulder).
The pork butt is a little trickier to butterfly than the loin as it is not as uniform. If your knife skills are good, go for the pork butt as it has more fat and the result is juicy, succulent pork meat. If you’re not too sure of your knife skills, go with pork loin or ask your butcher to butterfly your pork.
The interior of the pork is rubbed with a paste made of mustard, garlic, orange, finely crushed bay leaves, sage and oregano, some honey, salt and pepper. The stuffing is simple: blanched spinach, roasted red peppers and batons of sharp sheep’s milk Kefalotyri cheese.
Finally, the meat is rolled in parchment paper and aluminum foil and place in the oven to slow cook for just over 2 hours. A meat thermometer is helpful here and once the internal temperature reaches 150F, take out of the oven, remove the foil and parchment and return to the oven get some colour under the broiler.
I served this delicious stuffed pork with a sour cherry sauce made from reducing stock, Mousto Balsamic vinegar, garlic, herbs and finished with Vissino (sour cherry preserve). A bed of garlic mashed potatoes and celery root are the bedding for this dish, a Politiki salad on the side and a Papaioannou Single Estate to pair with your exquisite meal.
Pork Gioulbasi Stuffed Kefalotyri & Sour Cherry Sauce
Sour Cherry/Vissino Sauce
3/4 cup Acropolis Organics Mousto Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 medium red onion, minced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
6-7 whole allspice berries
bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
1 cup of pork, veal or chicken stock
Approx. 1/2 cup sour cherry preserve (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
One boneless pork butt or pork loin, trimmed of excess fat & butterflied
coarse sea salt
fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp. coarsely ground coriander seeds
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 tsp. of fresh thyme leaves
3 tsp. fresh sages, finely chopped
Paste for inside the pork
1/4 cup olive oil
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 Tbsp. of honey
1 Tbsp. Dijon style mustard
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves, crushed
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
salt and ground black pepper
approx. 1 cup chopped blanched spinach, try Cookin’ Greens frozen spinach
2 roasted red peppers, skins peeled and seeds removed
about 4 sticks of Kefalotyri cheese
Pre-heated 350F oven
- In a food processor, add the olive oil, honey, wine vinegar, mustard, sage, oregano, bay leaves, garlic, orange zest and orange juice and process into a paste and set aside. Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on your work surface then a similar sized piece of parchment paper. Now crush the coriander seeds and rub the outside of the pork with it along with the minced garlic, some coarse sea salt, fresh ground peppers and fresh thyme. Now place the butterflied pork (seasoned side face down) and empty the paste in the bowl and spread it evenly all over the inside of the pork. Season with salt and pepper.
- Now place the spinach along the middle of the pork (lengthwise) followed by the roasted red peppers and finally the Kefalotyri batons (sticks). Lift the foil and parchment to roll up the meat, use the foil and parchment to tuck/tighten the meat as it is being rolled up.
- Twist the ends of the foil to tighten the around the meat and place in a roasting pan with a rack. Pre-heat your oven to 350F and place the roast in the oven for 2 hours or until an internal temp of 150F is achieved. Carefully remove the foil and parchment and return the meat to the oven, crank the heat to broil to brown the outside of the meat (turn the meat often to evenly brown).
- Remove the meat from the oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
- While the pork is roasting, you can make the sour cherry sauce: pour all the ingredients (except for the sour cherry preserve, salt pepper) and gently bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and reduce to half the amount. Taste, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and strain. Pour back in the saucepan and add the sour cherry preserve 1 tablespoon at a time until you’ve achieved the balance of savory and sweet that you like. Reserve/keep warm.
- Slice your Pork Gioulbasi into thick slices, serve on a bed of garlic smashed potatoes and celery root and pour some sauce over each portion of meat.
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