Recipe: Santorini Pork & Oregano Casserole

Santorini Pork & Oregano Casserole

I’m writing this recipe up while sitting in a little pop up café (Filly Brook) by the station in Leytonstone. Despite it being the 29 May, the rain is coming down in sheets and there is a weather warning of high winds across London.  I can’t help but think that this time last week I was still in Santorini enjoying the sunshine.  This dish is the perfect antidote to the erratic weather that plagues the British summertime; it’s warm and filling but still full of the fresh summery flavours of herbs and lemon.

This recipe is an attempt to recreate a delicious lemony, porky, herby casserole that we had in Oia, Santorini.  The very helpful waitress told us it was called ‘Oreganato’ but I couldn’t seem to find any reference to such a dish when I trawled the net later.  I imagine it is my poor spelling or perhaps just my poor understanding.

We had a bash at recreating it at home and it turned out really well.  We’ve used both dried and fresh oregano as I find that they both bring something different to the dish, dried oregano has a deep intensity of flavour and fresh oregano is full of Mediterranean aromatic-ness.  So try to get your hands on the fresh stuff too, it grows super enthusiastically in our garden.  The gremolata is our addition.

This dish is quite rich so is perfect as part of a Greek meze with lots of other little dishes.  But would also be great with some Greek salad or a green salad and some fresh crusty bread.

Serves 4 as a main dish or 6-8 as part of a meze

Ingredients:

700g trimmed pork shoulder

A couple of tablespoons of seasoned flour

2 tbsp of olive oil.

2 tsp of dried oregano

1 large onion (chopped into 1cm chunks)

2 cloves of garlic (crushed)

Small bunch of fresh oregano (leaves picked off the stalks)

500ml vegetable or chicken stock

500g potatoes (waxy new potatoes are best chopped into  4cm chunks – small new potatoes can be halved or if really little left whole.)

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper

For the gremolata:

2 tbsps of finely chopped parsley

Zest of 1 lemon

A heavy bottomed casserole dish

Cut your pork shoulder into large-ish chunks (about 3cm cubes).  Combine the dried oregano with the seasoned flour (this is just plain flour seasoned generously with salt and pepper).  Lightly coat the chunks of pork in the flour & oregano mix, brushing off any excess.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over a high heat in your casserole dish and when hot start to lightly brown your pork.  Don’t crowd the pan as the pork will stew rather than brown, you may have to do it in a couple of batches.

Once all the pork is browned, remove from the pan and set aside.  Turn the heat down to medium and, if needed, add the extra tablespoon of olive oil to the casserole dish.  Add the onions (season well with salt and pepper) and cook for about 10 minutes until soft, add the crushed garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Return the browned pork to the casserole dish, add the oregano leaves and stir to combine.  Now add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer.  Once it is simmering put the casserole dish on your lowest hob, cover and allow to bubble away for about two hours.  Check it every so often to ensure it isn’t sticking and it isn’t drying out.  It shouldn’t if it is covered.

After about two hours the pork should be really tender.  To test if the pork is ready see if you can break it up easily with a fork.  If it’s not tender simmer for another 30 minutes and keep testing.  Otherwise, add the potatoes and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.

I found the sauce for this dish thickened up really well without adding any roux, because of the initial flour on the meat and the starch in the potatoes at the end.  If it is still a bit thin then just remove the lid when you add the potatoes and it will reduce as the potatoes cook.

Turn off the heat.  Check for seasoning and add the lemon juice to taste.  I like it really lemony so I added the juice of a whole lemon.

Combine the finely chopped parsley and the finely grated lemon zest and sprinkle over the top of the pork casserole just before serving.

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