The extent of regional Greek cooking was unknown to American readers in the 1980s. Now it is better known and being well studied. Last year my friend the Greek food writer Aglaia Kremezi and I traveled together to one of her favorite islands, Chios, in the northern Aegean, famous for its mastic gum, ouzo, olives, and delicious citrus-based spoon sweets.
Aglaia wanted me to taste some of the dishes that would appear in her book The Foods of the Greek Islands. Once again we fell into our old habit of sharing. While there, she introduced me to chef Stefanos Kovas, at whose ouzo bar we tasted this scrumptious pork-flavored orange-fragrant bean dish.
On Chios I learned how fortunate northern Greeks are to have one of the most delicious beans to work with—the huge, nutty-tasting, white gigante, which, when baked slowly, produces a soft, unbroken skin over a meaty, firm, and delicately flavored heart. In northern Greece, gigante beans star prominently in soups, casseroles, and other family dishes.
Serious pork and bean eaters will love this recipe from Chios . . . and I thank Aglaia Kremezi for sharing it.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.