PORK IN JELLY
Crispy or thick, as most people in Crete know, this is pure meat from the head and legs of the pig, in broth made with its natural gelatin from citrus juice with the addition of spices. It is a spicy appetizer with delicacies given to it by the spices as well as the natural citrus juices.
It is made several times a year in my village but mostly during the winter. I have occasionally come across a tavern in my village, serving this thick appetizer along with raki carafes. I didn't have a clue as to how easy it was to drink raki with this dish around! And we kept asking for more! The old housewives know the recipe well but have the patience and willingness to make this heavenly appetizer several times a year. Nowadays you can buy gourmet meat all year round from your butcher. It wasn't like the old times when slaughtering a pig happened only a few times a year.
It was one winter near Christmas and as usual my parents went to tend to the olive trees, and when I was little I went to my grandmother’s. I found her in the backyard of the house with a razor to clean the pig's feet. To tell the truth I didn't like the spectacle. “What are you going to do grandma?” I asked her. “Pork in jelly, my dear. Sit down to learn.” And she continued to tell me that it used to be made in a time when there was no electricity or refrigerators in the village. They stored the food in small clay pots, in the coolest part of the house, and when guests came to the house, my grandmother cut a piece for meze. On New Year's Eve, at lunch, we ate it for the first time. Good times.
Then my mum made it sometimes and I also found it in cafes so I decided to make it myself. I kept the recipe and all the method and found the patience to fix this delicious delicacy.
1 pig’s head
4 pork legs
150ml orange juice
200ml lemon juice
1 lemon peel
1 orange peel
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
Get the butcher to cut the head of a pig in pieces. In a very large saucepan put the head and the legs and the citrus peels. (If it does not fit in one pot, divide into two pots.) Fill with enough water to cover and salt.
Simmer and cook very well constantly until it stops foaming. Let it cook until well cooked, the meat should separate easily off the bones. (Let me tell you that we ate about half of the meat boiled with lemon with some visitors who had just dropped by. It was a delicious appetizer to go with a drink. Thank you for the great time, my friends!)
Remove the meat from the pan and allow to cool. Strain the juice in a clean saucepan. Cut all parts from the head and legs into small pieces.
Put them together with the broth and add the spices, juices and vinegar. Taste it to see if you need to add salt, and boil again for about 15 minutes. When ready, add the zest and stir.
Divide the gel in bowls or deep dishes. Make sure you distribute the broth and meat evenly. Leave in the fridge for a day.
When serving, remove the white fat that forms on the surface.