Friday, 23 March 2012

Cheap 'n' Greek 'n' frugal: pork rolls (Μίνι ρολά)

Prices are in euro (valid in Hania). All ingredients are Greek or locally sourced; those marked with * are considered frugal here because they are cheap and/or people have their own supplies.  

While at the supermarket buying mince to make biftekia (meat patties which I freeze for later use in a quick meal), I noticed something that looked cheap and tasty and easy to prepare. On the fresh meat counter there was a packet of four mini pork-rolls wrapped in butcher's string. It was mid-week, I had a sick child at home, I'd just left work, we were expecting an electrician to finish off a wiring job that was still remaining from the time we installed the wood fired oven, and I needed to find a quick way to prepare the next day's lunch which would allow me to concentrate on other more urgent tasks.

Pork is often the cheapest meat on the Greek market (apart from frozen chicken), and is readily available in many different forms for quick cooking. Top-end supermarkets in Crete now also offer different vacuum-packed cuts of meat. Despite the crisis, the signs of the recession are not apparent in the food supply.

This meal was cooked in the wood-fired oven for energy efficiency. 

The meal I cooked with the pork rolls uses up a lot of preserved summer produce, believe it or not, which makes it quite a cheap meal. The onions I added to the roast were bought in July, last summer, from a grower-seller who travelled from one village to another, selling his wares. The dried mushrooms were a present from a friend, and were reconstituted with wine from our supplies. My home-made tomato sauce was used to baste the pork, as was our olive oil. This is a truly rich meal made from the various preserved staples found in many rural Greek homes at this time of year.

 When the meal was ready, I transferred everything to a more appealing serving dish which could be heated in the microwave the next day for the family to serve themselves.

You need:
4 mini pork-rolls (these came ready, in packs of 4, at the fresh meat counter of a supermarket: ~3.79)
10 small onions*
a packet of dried mushrooms (~2.50; this is quite expensive, but any mushrooms can be used)
1 glass of wine*
4 tablespoons of thick tomato sauce*
a few glugs of olive oil*
salt and pepper*

 This photo was taken on the balcony in natural light.

Reconstitute the mushrooms in the wine. When they are ready (about 15 minutes), drain them (do not keep the wine). Place all the other ingredients in a baking tin, adding a large glass of water. Cover with a piece of foil and place in a moderate oven. Allow to cook till the pork is tender (about an hour), until the sauce has reduced. Serve with a leafy green salad and some plain rice.

Total cost of meal: 7 euro (~1.80 per person).

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