The Cretan diet has become famous all over the world since the last few years. It is considered to be the most healthiest diet because of its use of extra virgin olive oil, lots of vegetable and herbs. The Cretan diet developed from the Minoan traditions. This old civilization used the wild herbs of the island of Crete and honey. This inspired me to try out this recipe.
First time I had Cretan-Minoan food was about two years ago in a tiny but quiet famous restaurant in Heraklion I went with my family to celebrate my birthday. I had pork meat flavored with herbs and honey. It was so delicious that I wanted to try out something similar. I searched the internet and found a recipe coming close to it. So I modified it a bit and all my family was liking it a lots. You can eat this dish as roast or as “Pulled Pork” as it will be really soft from cooking in the oven. If you do not find any fresh spices you also can use dry, even though I would recommend to use fresh rosemary as the dried does not soften that well while cooking.
What you need:
For the marinade:
1 tsp of salt
2 heaped Tbsp. brown sugar
4 Tbsp. honey
2.5 kg boneless pork neck
1 garlic clove
1 fresh branches of each rosemary, thyme, coriander leaves and (optional) sage
For the crust:
1 medium onion
4 Tbsp of honey
3 Tbsp. olive oil
some chopped fresh leaves of rosemary, thyme, coriander and (optional) sage
1 small piece of celery root
some olive oil to fry
1 glass of dry red wine
1 cup of water
How to prepare it:
Mix the salt, brown sugar and 4 Tbsp. of honey with 6 cups of lukewarm water and stir until dissolved. Let cool.
In a large pot or bowl add the meat and the water. Cut the garlic in halves and add together with 1-2 branches of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. Cover and let marinate for 1-2 days in the fridge. The meat should be covered by the marinade. If necessary add some more cold water. Turn the meat in the marinade 2-3 times
Preheat the oven at 150-160ºC.
In a blender combine the coarsely cut onion with the olive oil and 4 Tbsp. of honey and blend until pasty. Chop some fresh rosemary, thyme and sage coarsely and stir under the onion paste.
Remove the meat from the marinade and dry with some paper towel. Salt and pepper from all sides. Rub the onion-herb mixture all over the meat. Clean the carrot and the celery root and cut in halves.
In a casserole heat some olive oil and fry the pork meat from all sides. Add the carrot and the celery root. Deglaze with the wine and 1 cup of water.
Cover and let cook on air for minimum 4-5 hours in the preheated oven. After 3 hours remove the lid and let cook the remaining hours. Appr. every 20 minutes pour over from the broth that has formed in the casserole.
Let rest the meat for appr. 15 minutes before cutting. Sieve the broth in a cup and carefully remove as much of the oil from the top as possible with the help of a spoon. You can use it as sauce if you want to serve the meat as a roast or mix it under the pulled pork to be juicy.