The name of the dish, as well as the bits of pork that are simmered until tender and then fried in their fat are called ‘papspalas’ in the local dialect of the island. Because I make these scrumptious scrambled eggs mostly in the winter, I roast the pale, greenhouse tomatoes to give them more flavor. In the summer, diced fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes are perfect for this, as for any other dish. You just need to cook them a bit longer in olive oil until their juices become syrupy.
Serves 2-3 as a main course, 5-6 as part of a meze spread
12 ripe plum tomatoes or 4- 5 medium tomatoes, confit (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup paspala: bits of pork confit kept in lard
1/2 cup goat’s or sheep’s milk yogurt, or thick Greek-style yogurt
1 good pinch Maraş pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
Good fruity olive oil, for drizzling
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or winter savory
Crumbled feta cheese, for serving (optional)
Toasted whole-wheat bread slices, for serving
Place the tomatoes confit, in a skillet together with their oil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often to thicken.
Add the paspala and sauté 2-3 minutes until sizzling.
In a bowl beat the eggs lightly with a pinch of salt and the yogurt.
Lower the heat and add the eggs to the tomatoes, sprinkle with the pepper and cook, tossing often with a wooden spatula until the eggs are just set. Be careful not to overcook the eggs.
Transfer to a shallow bowl and serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with Feta, if you like, drizzle with fruity olive oil, and add fresh oregano or thyme.
Alternatively, you can spread tablespoons of paspala on toasts and serve as bruschetta.
To make Paspalas:
Scraps, bits and pieces of meat, leftover from the more serious butchering of the pork–preferably pieces from the breast–cut into small pieces.
It is important that the pieces have enough fat on them, or that additional pieces of fat will be added. Roughly 50-60 % fat to meat.
Salt, Black pepper, Cumin, All-spice
Plenty of fresh thyme or winter savory
Place the diced pork in a thick-bottomed sauté pan and add water just to half cover. Bring to a boil in medium heat, add salt, black pepper, a good pinch of cumin, all spice and a few sprigs of fresh thyme –stand in for our Kea winter savory.
Cook for about 30 minutes or more, until the meat is cooked and very tender. You may need to add a little more water as needed.
Increase the heat to high and cook until all water is evaporated.
At this point, I found that it is easier to transfer part of the pork and its juices to a smaller, truly non-stick sauté pan, or deep skillet and brown in batches.
As the pork fries in its fat it splatters and sticks to the bottom of any ordinary pan. If it does stick, transfer the pieces to a non-stick skillet and de-glaze the pan with some water. Add the flavorful bits to the skillet with the rest of the pork to sizzle in the fat, otherwise you will lose some of the flavor.
Fry the piece of pork (preferably in batches, so that you can have more control and less splattering) until they get a nice brown, adding more thyme and taste correctin the flavor with more salt and/or pepper, as needed.
Fill jars and make sure the meat is covered with fat on top. If when it cools you realize that there is not a layer of fat at the top, melt some lard and pour a thin film over the paspalas.
Refrigerated, the Kean pork confit can be kept for up to 2 months, but you can also freeze it, if you want to keep it longer.
You will need only 12 tomatoes for the strapatsada, but I suggest you roast a lot more – as many as your baking sheet or sheets can hold in one layer – doubling or tripling the recipe if possible. Refrigerate any leftover confit in a jar, submerged in olive oil, for up to 1 week. It will also freeze for up to 6 months.
12 ripe plum tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 300˚F.
Bring about 3 quarts of water to boil. With a sharp serrated knife cut out and discard the stem end of each tomato and score a cross at the other end. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and let sit for a few seconds – you will see the skins loosen. Drain the tomatoes, rinse under cold water, peel off the skin and halve the tomatoes. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat.
Place the tomatoes, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with a little salt and roast the tomatoes for 3 hours. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar and let the tomatoes cool slowly.