I had been challenged!
Oh, ok, not only me… 10 of us, UK bloggers were challenged by Villa Plus to recreate dishes from all over the world. Chosen destinations included: Corfu, Lanzarote, Majorca, Algarve and my favourite Cyprus.
I’ve never visited Cyprus, so I thought it will be a great opportunity to learn a little bit about this country, especially its food 🙂. From what I’ve read it is a beautiful and “tasty” place.
My dish for the challenge is Afelia. For everyone who doesn’t know what it is – Afelia is a traditional Cypriot food – slowly cooked pork marinated in red wine and coriander.
Like with every meal, sourcing the ingredients is key, especially when you are on holiday and you try to recreate this authentic local taste – please do not rush to shop at the superstore, go for a wonder… have an adventure and I am sure you will find a local market on your travels, who sell locally sourced products.
Me, I visited my local butcher, in order to procure a nice piece of happy meat…
… and my local farm shop to stock up on the greens.
But let’s start from the beginning…
Step one – ingredients list!
- 1kg pork belly, cubed
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 glass of dry red wine
- Half a glass of olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, crushed
- Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
- Salt and pepper
As you can see from the ingredients list this is a very simple recipe.
It doesn’t require a lot of ingredients and it is budget friendly. I’ve paid £10.70 for just over 1kg of pork belly (yes, I know that supermarket has much lower prices but we would rather eat less but good quality food… shopping at our local butcher gives us full confidence that our meat is as good as it can get). Cost of wine £5.50, onions £0.30, olive oil £0.50… Total spend £17. I have not taken into account with all my calculations all the other bits as we already had them. This meal will feed 8, so price per head is just over £2, but… on the plus side you already have an almost full bottle of wine to go with your dinner, so no need worrying about drinks 😉
Depending how organized you are and how long you want meat to marinate, the dish will take anything from 4 hours up to 24+ hours to prepare from start to finish.
It is a very easy recipe so you do not require a lot of “tools” in order to make it. All you need is an oven, frying pan, and a casserole dish… a knife, cutting board and few bowls and plates… oh and a fridge, so your meat has a nice cool place for marinating.
So where do you start?
Preparing the meat
Once you are the lucky owner of a nice piece of pork belly it is time to cut it to shape.
If you bought your meat with skin, I would suggest removing it and if, like Mark, you are a huge fan of pork crackling cook it separate; if not just discard it.
Wash your meat and cut it into cubes.
Size is up to you. We went for two bites size, so our cubes might look a bit big to some but this is just the way we like it.
Preparing the marinade
The marinade is very easy, really… it couldn’t be any easier. You will need a glass of wine – dry red ideally, 2 bay leaves and 2 tablespoons of crushed coriander seeds.
Mix all ingredients and job jobbed, you‘ve just created a perfect Afelia marinade.
Now when your meat is cut into your desired size and the marinade is waiting beside you, it is time to mix these two together.
Place your meat in an air tight container – a bowl, plastic tab or a sealable (food safe) bag – and add the marinade. Give it a good stir/shake to make sure that it is evenly spread out and fully coated in the marinade.
Place in the fridge and do not forget to stir/shake it from time to time.
The longer you leave it, the better the results. Minimum marinating time is around 3 hours, but it will be best if left in the fridge over night.
Searing the meat stage
Once the marinating time is up, it is a good moment to start cooking.
Turn the oven on to around the 160°C (325°F) area.
You will need a large frying pan and some olive oil (or, if like us, you cooked the pork skin in order to have some homemade crackling, you can use the drippings, which dripped out from it).
Heat up the oil, drain the meat but save the marinade and fry your pork cubes for few minutes on each side to brown them.
You want them to be seared, golden brown but not yet cooked completely through.
Once done place your meat in the casserole dish you will use in the final stage of cooking.
Apparently this dish should be cooked in a clay oven or at least clay pot but regular oven and regular casserole dish will work as well, so do not worry about this too much.
Preparing the onions
You will need two large sliced onions that will need to be fried a bit, until soft and translucent.
We fried them using the same frying pan and remaining fat left over after searing the meat.
Once done, place them in your casserole dish.
At this stage almost everything is ready… all is left it to bring all the ingredients together. We have meat and onions already in our casserole dish, so what we need to add now is the cinnamon, salt, pepper and of course our marinade. Once the other ingredients have been added mix it nicely and put into the earlier pre-heated oven at 160°C (325°F) for about 1 hour.
And this is all she wrote.
Now, all you have to do is wait… remember, you still have some remaining wine, so pour yourself a glass and relax while dinner is bubbling away in the oven or use this time and decide what to have it with…
Our serving suggestions
Afelia with rice and salad
Afelia with couscous and fried vegetables
Afelia with pita bread* and salad
Afelia with vegetable kebab and toasted garlic bread
So, what do you think?
Sounds tempting or not for you?
*This pita bread was cooked on top of the hob in the frying pan used to fry / sear meat and veggies. No oven or pizza stone were involved this time, hence less puffiness and more colour.
** I was reimbursed the cost of the ingredients for this challenge.
57 responses to “Cooking with Villa Plus – Afelia – Cyprus Special #VPeats”
Wohaaa!!! What a detailed nom nom nom post ❤ It looks SO delicious and full of flavors indeed xx
the food looks delish! i havent had any cypriot food before and this looks easy to make!
the food looks tasty thanks for the detailed post for anyone to try this recipe at home 🙂
Super cool activity! I wish to learn more recipes too 😀
It looks super delicious! You already had me at a wine based sauce 🙂
OMG so tempted! I shall take up some cooking lesson soon haha :p
Easy recipe… no cooking lessons required 🙂