Milk Street The Greek Kitchen (Ep 415)

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PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES

Ikarian Braised Pork with Honey, Orange and Rosemary

Start to finish: 3¼ hours (1 hour 10 minutes active) | Servings: 6 to 8

This savory-sweet pork braise is our version of the tigania, or skillet-cooked meat meze, that Diane Kochilas demonstrated for us on the Greek island of Ikaria. Instead of serving the dish in the Greek meze tradition—that is, as a small plate along with a host of others—we opted to make a larger batch to offer as a main course. We preferred the braise sweetened with a strong, dark honey, such as buckwheat, which holds its own in the mix of wine, herbs, citrus and fennel seed. But a lighter, milder variety worked, too; orange blossom honey is a good option. An orzo pilaf or rice is perfect for serving alongside.

Don’t crowd the pot when browning the pork. If the meat is packed too tightly, the pieces will throw off liquid and steam rather than brown. Also, don’t stir when browning the pork to ensure the pieces develop a nice, deep sear. Note that only two-thirds of the pork is browned, not the entire amount; this saves some time but still develop caramelization that builds flavor.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 to 6 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 2-inch chunks and patted dry
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • ½ cup honey (see note), divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest, plus ½ cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle position. Season the pork with salt and pepper and toss. In a large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add a third of the pork in an even layer and cook without stirring until well browned, about 7 minutes. Using tongs, flip the pieces and cook without stirring until well browned on the second sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and brown half of the remaining pork using the oil remaining in the pot, then transfer to the bowl. Add the remaining pork to the bowl; it does not need to be browned.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt to the pot. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon rosemary, the bay, dried oregano, fennel seeds and ¼ cup honey. Return the pork and any juices to the pot, pour in 3/4 cup water and stir. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook until a skewer inserted into a piece of pork meets no resistance, 2 to 2½ hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a large bowl and cover to keep warm. Tilt the pot to pool the cooking liquid to one side, then use a wide spoon to skim off and discard as much fat as possible. Stir in the orange juice and remaining ¼ cup honey. Bring to a boil over high, then reduce to medium and cook, stirring often, until a spatula drawn through the liquid leaves a trail, about 10 minutes.


PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES

Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Feta

Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (20 minutes active) | Servings: 4

This is our adaptation of a recipe from Diane Kochilas’ book “My Greek Table.” A mixture of olive oil, mustard, balsamic vinegar, honey and garlic is slathered onto a head of cauliflower before roasting. The cauliflower then gets a finishing swipe of mustard and a coating of feta and parsley before roasting for a few minutes more to soften the feta. The cauliflower is simply cut into wedges for serving.

Don’t forget to line the baking sheet with foil or kitchen parchment. This will help prevent any drips of the oil-mustard mixture from scorching and smoking during roasting. Also, don’t worry if the cauliflower browns very deeply—chars, even—in the oven. This caramelization adds sweet, nutty flavor to the dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2-pound head cauliflower, trimmed
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or kitchen parchment. In a small bowl, whisk until creamy the oil, 2½ tablespoons of mustard, the vinegar, honey, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Measure ¼ cup of the mixture into a small bowl and set.

Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and brush the surface with the remaining oil-mustard mixture. Roast until deeply browned and a skewer inserted all the way through the head and into the core meets just a little resistance, 40 to 55 minutes.

While the cauliflower roasts, in a small bowl, toss together the feta and parsley. When the cauliflower is ready, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Brush the remaining 1½ tablespoons mustard over the surface, then pat on the feta-parsley mixture, pressing so that it adheres. Return to the oven and continue to roast until the feta begins to melt, 5 to 8 minutes.

Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cauliflower to a cutting board, then cut the head into 4 wedges. Serve with lemon wedges and the reserved oil-mustard mixture.


PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES

Tomato Rice with Oregano and Feta

Start to finish: 25 minutes | Servings: 4

In our version of Diane Kochilas’ risotto-esque tomato rice, the grains are cooked until al dente (the centers are still slightly firm) and the consistency is a little loose and soupy. We opted to use grape or cherry tomatoes because they tend to be dependably good no matter the season. Kochilas uses ouzo, the Greek anise-flavored liqueur, as seasoning in her rice; if you prefer, substitute an equal amount of white wine plus 1 teaspoon fennel seeds. To avoid a flare-up, take the skillet off the heat when adding the ouzo (this step is not necessary if using wine instead of ouzo).

Don’t use long-grain rice. It lacks the starchiness of Arborio rice and won’t yield a creamy, risotto-like consistency.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ⅓ cup ouzo (see note)
  • 4 cups hot water, divided
  • ¼ cup minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)

INSTRUCTIONS

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil and butter until the butter melts. Add the onion, tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and the tomatoes begin to release their juice, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains are translucent at the edges, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the ouzo. Return to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then cook, stirring, until most of the moisture has been absorbed, about 1 minute.

Stir in 3 cups of the hot water and 1½ teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and cook uncovered, stirring often and briskly, until the rice is al dente (tender but with some firmness at the center) and the consistency is creamy but still rather loose, 8 to 10 minutes; adjust the heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer. If the rice is thick and dry but the grains are still too firm, add the remaining 1 cup hot water and continue to cook, stirring, until the rice is al dente.

Off heat, stir in the oregano and lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the feta. Serve with oil for drizzling.

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