I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with family, friends and loved ones. Yesterday was one of the most memorable…for the company and of course, the food. Christmas for the Greeks goes beyond Christmas day and the tree at this household does not come down until after Epiphany. One of the mezedes I made yesterday were Tsigarides or deep-fried pork chunks – a favourite of my Mom & Dad’s as they were growing up in towns in the Prefecture of Florina.
Much talk is made of Mediterranean diet and yes, by and large people of modern Greece like to eat lots of vegetables, legumes, fish & seafood, fruits and nuts and meat for special occasions. What many don’t know is that not all of Greece produces olive oil and even fifty years ago people mostly ate what was produced locally. In regions like Florina, Kastoria, Thrace and parts of Epirus, there are no olive trees.
My parents recall using most animal fat (from the pig) and butter for cooking. These people lived off of what’s local and they lived to tell us about it. I am here to tell you that I love Greek food, I cook using mostly olive oil but I also think there is a place for butter and fats in Greek cuisine. These were ingredients my grandparents used, their grandparents used it and I can with certainty that Yiayia did not cook with BITAM (Greece’s most popular/consumed margarine).
The name of this site is called Kalofagas…literally translated as good feeder, a gourmand. My goal is to feature Greek cuisine in it’s most correct form – what Greeks eat at home, be it in Greece or Diaspora. I showcase food I’ve been exposed to through my many trips to Greece and it’s many regions and I offer up dishes that inspire me through the wonderful Greek chefs of ago and the new wave that are putting Greece cuisine at the forefront of gastronomy.
I am not doctor, not a dietician nor am I preacher. I share dishes that look good, taste great and I leave you with the recipes that allow you to recreate these wonderful food memories. Greek cuisine is many things…it’s healthy, it’s balanced, it’s simple and it’s delicious. One thing Greek food IS NOT is boring or bland.
Time to buy some boneless pork butt, cut them into chunks and simmer them until tender then fry them until deep brown and crispy. Tsigarides are associated with another long-time Greek tradition – the slaughter of the pig. An animal that helped so many Greeks survive the winter months. Preserved meats like Kavourma were made, sausages, salamis and of course the good cuts for feast days.
Tsigarides are not something one should eat often but it is the Christmas season and there’s nothing wrong with eating the decadent, fried foods in moderation as well. Yesterday’s tasting panel of my Mother, Father, Aunt, Brother and other relatives love them! So, you ate 2-3 deep-fried pork chunks over the holiday? I doubt you’ll be checking-in for that triple bypass anytime soon.
(meze platter for 4-6)
1 1/2 lbs. of boneless pork butt, cut into 1 inch chunks
coarse sea salt & fresh ground pepper
approx. 2-3 tsp. sweet paprika
sunflower oil for frying
fine sea salt and dried Greek oregano for finishing
- After you’ve cut up your pork, season well with sea salt, ground pepper and sweet paprika and toss to coat well. Place in a large skillet or pot and turn the heat onto medium high. Brown the meat on ll sides (occasionally stirring) and then add enough hot water to just cover the meat. Cover and reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the meat is fork-tender.
- Now uncover the meat and continue to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Adjust the seasoning of the meat and allow to cool completely or wait a day or overnight until frying.
- Once cooled, remove the pork chunks from the fat (discard) and pour about 3 inches of oil in a deep fryer (or deep pot). Once the oil has reached a temperature of 360-370F, add the pork chunks in batches and fry for about 3-4 minutes or until crisp.
- Reserve on a paper-lined platter, sprinkle with sea salt and dried Greek oregano and served with good crusty bread. Try a Pavlou Estate Xinomavro Rose.
. All rights reserved.