How to Make Pork with Celery, The Original Cretan Recipe
Χοιρινό με σέλινο or pork with celery is a very popular winter dish that we love to enjoy on Crete when cold days make their way on the island. Are you ready to try the dish? You’re in the right spot to learn how to make it! Read on…
Did you know? This is a very traditional dish that has its own day to be eaten on the island! Related to the feast of Agios Dimitrios (October 26th, when days start getting a bit chillier on Crete), this dish is often prepared on that day all over Crete, but specially in the village of Platanias, in Chania.
In fact, Dimitrios is the saint patron of the village, and the name, one of the most popular ones in Greece!
About Pork Traditions in Crete
Despite being eaten all over the country, this dish is particularly loved on the island, and often seen on a Christmas table as well as on New Year’s Eve. Wondering why?
Well, it has long been a tradition to serve pork during the holidays, especially in small hamlets and villages. In fact, pigs were usually slaughtered in the month of December, often on Christmas Eve, thus ending a long fasting period started bak in mid-November.
But that meat was not just used for the holiday dinners, pork was also preserved in different ways and used for many months to come. Tsilada (brawn) os a dish prepared with the head and feet of the pork, often cooked after Christmas, and often eaten in New Year’s dinner.
Other dishes that this Christmas pork would give include apaki (smoked pork curated with vinegar), sausages, meat pies, and more.
The tradition is still maintained in the more rural areas of the island, and pork still remains the most popular meat locally eaten during the Holidays.
Pork with Celery
This dish uses what’s known as selino, a wilder and stronger variety of celery often found in Greece and many other European countries, mostly int he Mediterranean region.
In many villages, Pork with Celery is still cooked following the traditional way, hat is in a clay pot over a wood fire. Trust me, this is the most delicious method to prepare this recipe.
Remember to choose a lean pork cut, pork loin is my cut of choice when cooking pork with celery.
Bear in mind: This dish can be made also with the regular celery which you can find at your local grocery store (often known as the Pascal variety). The result will be quite similar.
Selino with Avgolemono: A Great Combination
This dish can also be found in avgolemono sauce, one of the most delicious sauces you will ever found in Greek cuisine. It has not been included in this Cretan version, but a great alternative that well combines with celery for an extra twist in flavor.
If you prefer to have Pork with Celery without avgolemono sauce, you can easily enhance the already delicious flavors using also leeks, lots of dried oregano and fresh dill, and generously pour some local white wine in the pot while making this recipe… it will be just perfect!
Best Cretan Wines to Pair with Pork and Celery
- Lyrarakis Plytó Psarades, white dry wine made with the Plytó grape variety (saved from extinction by the Lyrarakis family).
Cretan wine pairing by talented local sommelier, Anna Maria Kambouraki.