Traditionally, pork or rooster (and sometimes both) are served as part of Greek family meals on New Year's Eve or Day.
Pork Loin stuffed with Kefalograviera cheese and mushrooms. Click to enlarge image.
The menu consisted of stuffed pork loin as pictured above, served with a roasted tuber and root medley, and a rice pilaf topped with baked mushrooms and onions; there was also a baked chickpea dish, and a romaine lettuce hearts and cucumber salad. In addition, the table was set with a platter of assorted Greek cheeses (including Kaseri and Feta), some village style cured olives, and some Greek peperoncini peppers. For dessert, I had baked a Milopita which was accompanied by coffee, tea, and cognac.
The pork loin was simply superb; succulent and moist all the way through. I had splayed the loin in a double butterfly manner to ensure as large a rolling surface area as possible. I wanted a tight and complete roll that would not leak its contents when tied and roasting in the oven. As the loin was the better part of two feet long, it was a delicate process to open it up in such a fashion, but the finished product was well worth the extra effort and care.
Once the loin was cooked and sliced, I served each piece with a drizzle of jus which I reduced from the pan drippings combined with some apple juice and Greek thyme honey. Also, I had tenderized the inner surface of the meat with a mallet and rubbed the loin (inside and out) with Greek extra virgin olive oil, and had seasoned it all over with paprika, marjoram, salt and pepper. Then, I spread a layer of shredded/grated Kefalograviera cheese followed by a layer of sliced mushrooms lightly seared in butter over top of the meat, covering about two-thirds of the inside open face of the loin, and leaving an uncovered band about two inches in width running along the edge furthest from me. At which point, I rolled the meat lengthwise toward the cheese-less band, and then tightly tied it with twine at both ends and in the centre, and then again at two-inch intervals along its entire length. The final preparatory step was to tightly wrap the meat in some aluminum foil and allow it to sit on the counter for a couple hours before cooking. I wanted the meat to be at around room temperature when it went into the oven.
Finally, I removed it from the aluminum foil wrap and cooked the loin uncovered on a rack over a pan in a moderate 350 oven for 1 ½ hours. From time to time, I basted the loin with the pan drippings and turned it only once to ensure an even roasting. The result was flavourful, tender, and moist.
Tonight is New Year’s Eve and my wife and I will be spending it with our son, Ilias, who is still in the NICU at the hospital. Though, we do expect him home very soon. So, from the three of us to all of you, we hope 2009 brings you and yours nothing but health, happiness, peace and prosperity.
Pánta Kalá! (Always Be Well),
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.