Pork with Celery – Chrani Style
Peter chose this dish when we ate at the taverna just down the road from our studio in Chrani, on the Peloponnese. I could really kick myself for not going into the kitchen to find out the ingredients and processes of this dish. It was absolutely delicious; well I had to have a taste or two! After several attempts this is the closest I can get to the original, the success hinging on using a whole head of celery including the leaves.
Celery - one complete head (most reputable greengrocers sell this unwashed with the leaves, known as ‘dirty celery’)
Olive oil - for frying
Pork - 750g lean diced shoulder
Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
Thyme - a sprig or 1 tsp dried thyme
Juniper berries - 8, crushed
Fennel seeds - 2 tsps
Chicken stock - 250-500ml, preferably home-made
Ground black pepper
Chop up the whole of the celery head finely, including the leaves and wash and drain in a colander.
Fry the diced pork in the olive oil, in an ovenproof casserole, until golden brown.
Then add the chopped celery and onions; stir and fry gently with the pork for a few minutes.
Add the thyme, juniper berries and fennel seeds and pour over sufficient chicken stock to just cover.
Season with salt and pepper, stir and bring the casserole up to simmering point.
Put the lid on the casserole and place in a preheated oven at Gas 4/180ºC for about 1½ hours, stirring from time to time.
At the end of the cooking time the pork should be tender with most of the liquid evaporated.
Serving Suggestions: Garlic mashed potatoes (see Starters, Salads and Vegetables section) and simple plain boiled carrots and broad beans (when in season) go well with this dish.
Variations: Use 4 loin pork chops, trimmed of fat but with the bone left in.