Exohiko with pork
Exohiko is cooked by slowly roasting pork with peppers, tomatoes, and onions inside a parchment paper pouch in the oven. As a result, you get very soft and juicy pull-out pork, with caramelized onions and peppers to die for! A Greek traditional recipe you must try at least once in your life!
Exohiko recipe origins and variations
Exohiko is a traditional Greek recipe with meat, peppers, tomatoes, and onions closed in a parchment paper pouch and slowly roasted, often cooked during “Tsiknopempti”.
Pork, lamb, beef, and goat are popular meat choices for this dish which is slowly roasted in the oven for several hours resulting in very succulent and juicy meat.
The “Exohiko” got its name from the taverns in the countryside where this recipe originated. In the taverns, in addition to peppers and tomatoes, they usually add cheese such as feta or the Greek Graviera.
My recipe, however, does not have the addition of cheese or feta because I wanted to reduce the calorie intake for this dish. In the original recipe, they use plain paprika instead of smoked paprika.
If you decide to add a very salty cheese while you cook it, then do not add any salt while you marinate the meat.
The Greek Tsiknopempti (Smokey Thursday) and similar holidays
Tsiknopempti is a Greek traditional holiday that proceeds Easter and celebrates the consumption of meat before the beginning of Lent in the Christian orthodox religion.
A very beloved tradition of the Greeks because we gather with family and friends to hang out and cook together at home or eat out in taverns on the countryside. This day is associated with a large consumption of meat, wine, and Tsikoudia* or Raki* that accompanies it.
We often joke about it, saying that every Thursday of Tsiknopempti dark clouds are gathering on the Greek sky because of the smoky chimneys of every household and tavern!
A similar well-known holiday worldwide is the “Mardi Gras” or “Fat Tuesday” which is celebrated mostly in New Orleans, USA with the consumption of meat and crazy parties all over the state, people disguised with colorful costumes, parades, and loud music all over the streets which often lasts for 3 days. Mardi Gras, besides New Orleans, is also celebrated in other francophone countries like France, Senegal, and Belgium.
Italy, Sweden, Germany, and the Czech Republic also have similar festivals and with a similar name like “Greasy Tuesday” or “Fat Thursday” although they are not well known to the masses.
Other popular dishes that are consumed at Tsiknopempti are grilled Lamb chops, Pork steaks, Kleftiko, Kokoretsi, Kontosouvli, and generally whatever can be roasted in the oven or barbeque.
Marinate before roasting
Marinating the meat before roasting is important for this recipe because it will tenderize the meat, absorb all the spices, and thus will make it tastier. I recommend at least 1 hour marinating the pork at room temperature or ideally for 8 hours in the fridge.
The next day leftovers
After roasting you will notice plenty of juices in the baking pan. These juices are very tasty and you should not throw them away! The next day I put the juice in a pan with a little wine over high heat, let it reduce to a nice sauce and/or thickening it with a little cornstarch. This sauce can be spread over white rice and eat it with any leftover meat from yesterday.
Exohiko with pork
Ingredients for marinating the meat:
- 1 kg roughly chopped pork (leg without the bones)
- 2 Tbsp Mustard
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of black pepper
- 1 pinch of oregano
- 1 pinch of smoked paprika
- 1 pinch of thyme
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion cut into crescents
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
Instructions for the marinate:
- Mix all the ingredients, massage the pork so it gets a nice coating, cover with a plastic wrap and let it marinate overnight or for 8 hours in the fridge or at least 1 hour at room temperature.
Ingredients for Exohiko:
- 1 kg marinated pork
- 1 green bell pepper cut in rounds
- 1 red horn pepper (Florina pepper) cut in rounds
- 1 onion cut into crescents
- 1 tomato cut into crescents
- Cut all the vegetables into rounds and mix them together with the marinated pork.
- Lay 2 parchment papers crosswise and add them all inside.
- Close them like a pouch, tie them with a cooking string and if they do not close well, put a wet parchment paper on top to close it.
- Bake at 180oC for 2 hours with the pouch closed and 30 minutes with the pouch open.
- Serve with French fries or baked potatoes and Greek salad.
- You can wrap all the pork together in a big clay cooking utensil or make smaller portion wraps for each guest or family member.
- Add a little olive oil to the cooking string after you tie the pouch so that it does not burn while cooking.
- Tsikoudia and Raki are Greek traditional alcoholic spirits with a see-through clear color and a unique, neutral taste similar to vodka or sake.