Friday, February 5, 2010

CSA week eight - Hirino me selino sto sáltsa avgolemono

a.k.a. Pork with celery in egg and lemon sauce

This is a Cretan dish that I read is typically served around the holidays. Traditionally it uses pascal celery which, judging from the pictures, is a small parsley-like herb rather like the Chinese celery we sometimes receive in the CSA shares. A pound of that is rather hard to come by around here so using regular parsley is a small compromise. The recipe I'm making, originally from The Food of Greece by Vilma Liacouras Chantiles, using the standard Greek methods of light seasoning and long boiling, but has a few more changes from most of the other versions I saw. I assume, because these additions build additional flavor elements, they're taking it away from the traditional Greek version. Is that being unfair? I'm probably being unfair. I don't really know much about Greek cuisine.

2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 pound lean pork, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
salt and pepper
approximately 2 cups hot water
1 bunch celery, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 carrot, peeled and small diced
1 Tablespoon flour
1 egg
juice from 1 lemon
parsley to garnish

1. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add the pork and cook until it loses its pinkness. Don't brown it. Season with salt and pepper. Add hot water to cover, bring to a boil then cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the celery and carrot. If your celery is particularly leafy save some for the garnish. Take the egg and lemon out of the refrigerator too.

3. When the pork is not quite tender, add the celery and carrot. Bring back to a boil, re-cover and simmer gently for 30 more minutes or until both meat and vegetables are on the verge of falling apart.

4. When you're ready, remove the solids from the pot into a bowl. Pour the liquid into a measuring cup. If you have less than 1 1/2 cups add some water. If you have more, pour some out.

5. Add the other Tablespoon butter to the newly emptied pot. When it is melted and sizzling add the flour. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes until the floury clumps melt down. Add the 1 1/2 cups of pork stock and stir until it comes to a boil.

6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl beat the egg. Slowly drizzle in the lemon juice while beating. When the liquid in the pot has come to a boil beat a little into the egg-lemon mixture to temper. Then pour the mixture into the pot, mix well, turn the heat to low and stir until it thickens. Pour the sauce over the pork and celery. Garnish with parsley and any reserved celery leaves.

I'm rather surprised how much I like this. Boiling the heck out of celery really mellows it out. It's still celery, but it's not CELERY any more so it plays well with the lemon and the pork.

Pork, on the other hand, is better as PORK so boiling the heck out of it doesn't serve it so well. But the flavor lost is in the sauce so it's still in the dish and I can't complain over much.

The sauce is, foremost, tart, but also rich and with some depth of flavor from the use of the pork stock.

Overall, quite tasty and a fine way to use a whole head of celery which is a very small class of recipes indeed.

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