Afelia, Red Wine Marinated Pork, a Cypriot Classic

Afelia, red wine marinated pork with coriander seeds. Photo: Cyprus Tourism CH, via Wikimedia Commons

Afelia, red wine marinated pork with coriander seeds, is a classic Cypriot dish. While marinating meat is common in Greek cuisine, the flavor combination makes afelia a truly distinctive culinary experience.

The dish is usually served with potatoes or bulgur or rice. Many versions of the recipe exist, so the following is just one option to try.

Afelia (Red Wine Marinated Pork with Coriander Seeds)

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into cubes
2 cups dry red wine, preferably Greek or Cypriot
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Greek extra virgin olive oil

Place the pork cubes in a nonreactive bowl with the wine, bay leaves, and coriander seeds. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to overnight. When ready to cook, remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. If a few of the coriander seeds are stuck on, it is fine.

Set the marinade aside for later and season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large, ovenproof saucepan with a cover, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat and cook the pork until browned on all sides. You may need to work in batches.

Once all the pork is browned, place it all back in the pan, add the marinade, and bring up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven to cook for about an hour. Remove from the oven and place the pan back on the stove over medium heat to reduce and thicken the sauce.

If skipping the oven is preferred, add a half cup of water, cover the pan and continue simmering on the stove for about an hour and a half. Add additional water as needed, if the pan seems to be drying out too quickly. Remove the bay leaves and serve with potatoes or bulgur or rice, as preferred.

Bulgur Salad

2 cups water
2 cups uncooked bulgur
1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt
2 cups diced plum tomatoes
1 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, add 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the bulgur. Stir and then simmer until the water is absorbed. Transfer the cooked bulgur to a large mixing bowl and add the tomatoes, onion, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, pepper, and the cooked chickpeas. Stir well and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately as a side dish or as a vegetarian main course.

To cook chickpeas, sort and rinse, then soak overnight in a large deep pot. Drain the soaking liquid and add fresh, cold water to cover the chickpeas by about two inches. Bring the pot to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to a simmer, and add a teaspoon of salt to the boiling chickpeas.

Continue cooking until tender. If desired, add an onion, cut in half, two peeled carrots, and two celery stalks, to the simmering chickpeas to add more depth of flavor. The cooked chickpeas can be eaten as a soup with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or drain and use in salads.

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