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Chef Gikas Xenakis shares his Pork Cheeks with sour Trahana recipe | The Kitchen

Athens's Aleria chef Xenakis’s pork cheeks with sour Trahana (frumenty) recipe
Athens's Aleria chef Xenakis’s pork cheeks with sour Trahana (frumenty) recipe   -   Copyright  Aleria restaurant
By Gikas Xenakis

Gikas Xenakis is the head chef of Aleria, an award-winning restaurant in Athens serving modern Greek cuisine. 

Born and raised in the Greek countryside, Chef Xenakis’ cuisine revolves around fresh and local products, evoking the great diversity of not only the Greek countryside but also his mother’s cooking. He shares with The Kitchen his recipe for pork cheeks with sour Trahana (frumenty) recipe, a delicious dish made featuring the ancient Greek pasta-like Trahana. It is decadent, sophisticated, and perfect for the cold months of the year.

Aleria restaurant
Chef Gikas XenakisAleria restaurant

Trahana is a type of ancient wheat product that's eaten in Greece and the eastern Mediterranean. Considered the first Greek pasta, it is a healthy and nutritious ingredient that pairs exceptionally well with braised meat. Each region has its own local recipe with Trahana.

Gikas Xenakis's Pork cheeks with sour Trahana (frumenty) recipe

Cooking time: 2.5 hours

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of pork cheek Iberico
  • 100 grams of flour
  • 50 grams of carrots
  • 50 grams of celery
  • 50 grams of onions
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Fresh thyme
  • 600 ml chicken demi-glace (Demi-glace is simply a rich stock and a traditional element of French cuisine. Demi-Glace is made by reducing broth until it's thick and packed with flavour. You can get use a good quality store-bought, but of course, it will be better if you make it yourself. There are many Youtube videos explaining how to. It is not much work, but it does require time on the stove)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 200 ml olive oil

For the sour Trahana (frumenty):

  • 200 grams of sour Trahana (frumenty)
  • 700 grams of chicken stock
  • 60 ml of olive oil
  • 50 grams of grated Greek graviera cheese
  • 30 grams of butter
  • 5 grams of chives
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

For the pork cheeks:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 Celcius.
  2. Sauté all vegetables in a large oven-proof pan with 100 ml of olive oil until soft, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Add red wine to the veggies and reduce (the alcohol will evaporate and a thicker liquid from the vegetables and the wine will remain. Don’t let it completely reduce, it will burn if not!)
  4. Set a plate with the flour, coat the cheeks on both sides, then season with salt and pepper.
  5. Set another saucepan to high heat, add 100 ml of olive oil and brown the pork cheeks on both sides.
  6. Now add the pork cheeks to the vegetable oven-proof pan, add the chicken demi-glace, cover it (oven-proof cover or aluminium foil) and bake for 2 hours.

For the Trahana (frumenty):

  1. Warm up the chicken broth until simmering.
  2. Place a large pan to medium-low and add 60 ml of olive oil. Now sauté the Trahana for about 2 minutes.
  3. Now stir enough simmering stock to just cover the Trahana. Cook, stirring often and vigorously until stock is just about absorbed.
  4. Repeat. You must continue to add the chicken broth (gradually, just as you would with a risotto) until Trahana is cooked, about 12-15 minutes. When it's ready it should be soft and creamy. Add butter and grated Graviera cheese.
  5. Serve with the meat on top.

Pair with a Xinomavro, the most famous red variety in northern Greece. Perfect for braised meat. I recommend Ramnista wine from Kir-Yianni winery in Naoussa.