Monday, January 28, 2008

Recipe: Pork and Chickpea Stew (Χοιρινό με Ρεβίθια)

Viewed from mountaintop pastures, the sun sparkles off achingly blue Aegean waters. Boats travel lazily in and out of the island’s many natural harbors. Hulking shapes of nearby islands grace the horizon.

In spring, wild plants, both edible and inedible, paint the pastures green, briefly disguising rocky earth and thin soil. Bursts of color from showy displays of wild flowers punctuate the bright green vistas. A small valley divides the pastures. Topsoil, deposited over the centuries, supports the valley’s lush plant communities.

By August, the hillsides are painted again, but this time in shades of gold and ochre and rust. The plants, once so green and inviting, are sharp and prickly, attacking the legs of those who venture to cross the land. Rocks are everywhere. Small lizards dart to and fro, hunting for food on the parched hillsides.

Uncle Dimitris used to grow chickpeas in the valley, the only place on the rocky mountaintop capable of sustaining a cultivated crop. He reached the remote area by donkey, and tilled the hard soil by hand. He let the chickpeas dry on the vine, then brought them down to the village for Aunt Stavroula to clean and cook.

During years of poverty, through occupations, wars, inflation, and unemployment, garbanzo beans were an important winter food on the island. They are rich in protein and nutrients, and were particularly valued on the many fasting days that fill the Greek Orthodox calendar.

In this recipe, chickpeas are paired with pork to produce a flavorful and filling winter stew. I’ve made the stew with only chickpeas, leaving out the pork, and it is very tasty - though not as appealing for meat-eaters. When it’s just the two of us, my husband’s serving is heavy on the meat, and my serving is heavy on the chickpeas, a state of affairs that pleases us both.

Pork and Chickpea Stew (Χοιρινό με Ρεβίθια)
Serves 4 – 6

When made with canned chickpeas and tomatoes, both of which work well in this dish, the stew is particularly easy to make. I like the extra flavor boost from oil-cured olives, but the stew is wonderful without them.

1 1/2 pounds pork steak (bone-in) or 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 cups diced yellow onions (1/2” dice)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. dried thyme, crushed
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 14.5 ounce cans)
2 cups (1 14.5 ounce can) diced tomatoes
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. minced fresh sage
1/3 cup chopped oil-cured or salt-cured black olives (optional)

Wash and dry the pork well. Cut into 1” cubes, reserving any bones. Season the pork and bones with salt and freshly ground black pepper and, in a large pot, brown on all sides in olive oil. Stir in the onions, lightly season again with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and sauté until the onions begin to turn golden. Add the garlic and dried thyme and cook for 1 minute.

Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until the wine is reduced by half. Stir in the chickpeas, diced and crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the pork is tender.

Remove the cover, stir in the sage and black olives, and bring to a medium boil. Cook the stew, stirring as necessary to prevent it from sticking to the pan, until the liquid is the consistency you desire, about 10 – 15 minutes.

Serve with feta cheese, crusty bread, and a crisp green salad.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Claudia from Fool for Food.


Ivy said...

I'd prefer it without the pork as well but have a lot meat eaters in my family. Can give this a try, all ingredients sound wonderful.

Peter M said...

Laurie, what a wonderful postcard you've written, Aegean here I come!

Pork with bay and sage a natural trio and as for revithia, only recently am I overcoming my aversion to them that stemmed from those dried chick peas we found in bowls at peoples' home for their name day.

Laurie Constantino said...

Ivy, if you try it, I hope you like it!

Peter M - those dried chickpeas are absolutely awful. I think when you bite into them they suck all the moisture out of your mouth. But cooked chickpeas are nothing like the nasty dried thingss. They are wonderful and one of my favorite legumes. I love the texture whole, plus they make a wonderful chickpea soup when pureed (that recipe is also on the blog and is a tasty place to start for people who think they don't like chickpeas).

mimi said...

wow, your stews are always so delicious looking! and it definitely sounds like it would make a wonderful vegetarian chickpea stew.

Riana Lagarde said...

wonderful writing! i felt like a bird watching from above. the colors of the seasons still amaze me.

still digging into the freezer!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Looks delicious! This has a lot of flavors in common with a veg tagine I made recently, so I'm having no troubles imagining how this would taste. And count me in on the pork--maybe get some bacon action in there, too while I'm at it!

Shalimar said...

how much i hated rebithia before... the way you write just want me hop to a ferry and sail the aegean.. well i was in Pireaus today and I stood there looking at the ferries, imagining them gliding the blue Aegean seas... now am typing this am on tears... am leaving tom much I actually miss Greece the food, the people... today is ilio me dontia.

Kalyn Denny said...

It sounds delicious. It never occurred to me to combine pork with chickpeas, but I don't know why they wouldn't go well together!

Anonymous said...

Hello Laurie,
I LOVE THIS RECIPE. I am so making it this weekend. Perhaps I will add some ground coriander which goes well with both pork and chick peas. Thanks for the great idea.

Laurie Constantino said...

Mimi, I love my stews - especially this year!

Riana, me too, that freezer just keeps producing new and surprising foods -- it's a miracle!

Mike, mmmm, bacon - yes, that would be good indeed. Next time...

Sha, it may have been cold, but at least you had sun! (I think you're spoiled by all the good weather you've been enjoying in the past few months). So sorry you can't stay in Greece longer.

Kalyn, they go perfectly together - you should try it!

FoodJunkie, I can definitely see adding some coriander (please let me know if you do). Glad you like it!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

This really is my favourite kind of stew. Yours looks particularly fantastic, and I wish I could have some right now!

Anonymous said...

I know I would love this dish, Laurie :)

Cakelaw said...

After reading your introduction, I amlonging to go to Greece! Beautiful dish - I love chickpeas.

test it comm said...

Chickpea stew with pork sounds tasty. I like the sound of the olives in it.

Laurie Constantino said...

Spaghetti, thank you. I wish we hadn't eaten it all - I'd like some more!

Maryann, I know it too!

Gaye, start planning your vacation! Greece is a fun place to go.

Kevin, the olives really added something special, but I've made this plenty of times without them.

Anonymous said...


This looks fabulous. I, too, will be making the vegetarian version, and I think it will be perfect for our snowy weekend coming up. Years ago, I used to make a potato-chickpea stew in a tomato base (but no olives), which was also delicious. I'm salivating!

Thanks so much for taking time to comment on my blog as well--it is much appreciated!

winedeb said...

Hard to think about food after you have taken us on the trip to the Aegean! Chickpeas are so versitile and I am loving the savory way you used them in your stew. Yum!

Anonymous said...

We have an early spring here in the Aegean. Can you imagine? I 've seen some red poppies!!!
Fantastic blog... great recipes!

Is it Sifnos, the aunt's and unckle's island?

ThreeTastes said...

This stew, the red cabbage and blueberries (that's a new one for us, can't wait to try that), and the artichoke stew are all going to go a long way to getting the pantry and freezer ready for our move. Thanks again for helping with my attitude adjustment! : P

Anonymous said...

Fantastic written introduction followed by a hearty recipe. Wonderful combination Laurie and it sounds so inviting especially with a hunk of your great home made bread. (I had a giggle about Peter M's comments about those dried chickpeas that greeks would serve at namedays. They also put me off as a child but I adore chick peas now).

desie said...

i love your opening paragraphs, made me want to be in greece again.
this stew sounds so comforting and delicious. bookmarked for a cold night.

Núria said...

Your description of the landscape is wonderful... I could see it through your words. It reminded me of James Oliver Curwood, that old book he wrote about a dog called Kazan... oh I loved that book.
And the chikpeas and pork stew looks delicious! I would love this one too :D

Suzana said...

Laurie, this stew sounds like one my mom does - it's yummy. I love pretty, tasty chickpeas.

Cris said...

Oh what a wonderful trip to Aegean waters... and the air is filled with the aroma of this steaming hot stew... wonderful.

Ivy said...

Laurie, hope you are well. Haven't heard from you for a few days.

I have tagged you for a MEME. Hope you don't mind. You are not obligated to carry it on of course, but check out my answers when you have the time! Have a nice weekend.

Tay said...


This sounds so yummy! I'm trying to get pots of soup made and frozen before radiation gets too intense and I'm too tired to cook much. I'm needing to stick to very lean meats, what do you think of trying this with chicken breasts? Any suggestions on adapting it?

I love chick peas and never have enough ideas about how to eat them. And the oil cured olives in this sounds wonderful!

Laurie Constantino said...

Ricki, the vegetarian version is great and, I agree, perfect for a snowy weekend. Mmm, potatoes and chickpeas sound like a wonderful stew.

Winedeb, hope you had a good time on the trip! The Aegean is a beautiful place.

Dimitris, poppies already! You really made me miss Greece as all I see when I look out the window is snow. I'm honored you like the blog and recipes; I love your books about Mykonos. As for the island, please e-mail me. Thanks again for the kind words.

Manju, the thought of moving my freezer and pantry is terrorizing, even after a month of not buying a thing. Good luck!

Peter, I think bread is necessary for stews to mop up all the sauce! And I was giggling at the same thing...

Maybahay, I hope you get to Greece again and take your kids - Greeks adore children and yours are so cute!

Nuria, thank you. I had to look up James Oliver Curwood; I don't think I've read that book. Now I'm interested!

Suzana, mom cooking is the best kind. The texture of chickpeas is what I like best about them - and the nuttiness.

Cris, can you tell I'm missing the Aegean??

Ivy, I'm fine, just busy, thanks for asking. It's political season around here, so that takes some time. I'll go check out your answers. Καλή εβδομάδα

Tay, that sounds like a really good plan. You can substitute chicken directly for the pork. However, you might consider making it with pork tenderloin. According to the USDA nutrient database, 100 grams of pork tenderloing have 109 calories, 21 grams of protein, and 2.17 grams of fat. 100 grams of chicken thighs have 119 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 3.91 grams of fat. 100 grams of chicken breast has 100 calories, 23 grams of protein and 1.24 grams of fat. In other words, pork tenderloin is a very low fat meat.

Anonymous said...

This dish looks great Laurie!