Pork with Celery-Lemon Sauce is a popular Greek stew with countless variations, but it’s a tricky recipe to get right. Too often the sauce overwhelms the pork, or goes in the opposite direction and vanishes into blandness. Some recipes taste good, but because the sauce is thick, gloppy, and pale, the finished dish looks very unappealing.
I’ve made versions of pork with celery more times than I care to count, and tinkered repeatedly with the balance of flavors and textures. In my version, the celery is just strong enough to balance the pork, and the eggless lemon sauce is bright and sharp.
If I can find it, I make this dish with leaf celery, which has a concentrated herby flavor absent in supermarket (stalk) celery, and a hint of bitterness that goes well with pork, a mild and slightly sweet meat. In Anchorage, leaf celery is found in Asian or farmer’s markets, and may be sold as “Chinese celery.”
When celery is served on its own, more likely than not it will be as part of a raw vegetable tray with ranch dressing, or filled with peanut butter for hungry dieters. Pork with Celery-Lemon Sauce uses 8 cups of chopped celery, and provides a way to appreciate celery’s distinctive flavor without it being overwhelmed by ranch dressing. You also won’t have to cope with a wad of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
From start to finish, Pork with Celery-Lemon Sauce takes me about an hour to make. The recipe for it is in Tastes Like Home: Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, which can be ordered here.