When I first heard of a pork [belly] baklava, I was intrigued to say the least. According to Citrus and Candy who tweeted and blogged about the dish – served at Perama as part of a 30+ course feast one evening, it was quite the show-stopper. So much so, she visited again.
I didn’t need any more convincing that the concept of a baklava mixed with pork was a good one and one that would definitely make for a delicious entree for my State of Origin game night dinner. It was perfect timing, too as my “challenge tank” was beginning to run on empty again – I knew pork baklava had to be next.
I’d never seen or had it before, so this was going to be a restaurant-inspired challenge like no other: create a dish by only knowing its title. But, I like to push myself, so I just got to work and made it. The result?
Crisp flaky filo pastry layered with sticky date pork, nut mixture and smothered in a salted mandarin-peel infused sugar syrup for that extra flavour hit. Eye-poppingly rich and quite the show stopper, indeed.
Now all that’s left is to venture over to Petersham and try the original at Perama.
Makes 8 squares
Baklava, is a sweet filo and crushed nut pastry, popular in many countries around the Meditterranean and in the Middle East. The rich sweetness of the filling and sugar syrup topping means it is normally enjoyed in small portions and often accompanied by a small cup of freshly brewed, strong black coffee to balance the bitterness with the sweet.
My pork version’s focus is definitely on the filling, but if you’d like to see more pastry, simply add another sheet of filo to each layer.
Pork baklava stuffing
- 260g pork mince
- 75g unsalted pistachios
- 50g slivered blanched almonds
- 50g salted cashews
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup mandarin juice
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 6 dates, seeds removed
Pork baklava pastry
- 6 sheets filo pastry
- 40g melted butter
Mandarin sugar syrup
- peel of a whole mandarin
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- (1 tsp sea salt for sprinking)
Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan forced, 400F, gas mark 6).
To make the stuffing: brown pork mince in a small frypan, breaking it into small granules with a metal whisk. Process pistachios, almonds and cashews in a food processor until the nuts resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add cinnamon, sugar and pork to the nuts and mix well to combine. Place dates and mandarin juice in a small pan and bring juice to the boil. Pour into a measuring jug and blend until smooth with a stick blender. Add blended dates to the nuts and pork, mix well to form a paste. Set aside.
To prepare pastry: fold out 6 sheets of filo pastry on a dry surface. Cover and store the rest. Line a cookie tray with some non-stick baking paper brushed lightly with butter.
Fold each filo sheet in 3 so that each sheet effectively makes 3 layers of pastry, brushing each layer with melted butter before another one is folded over the top. Repeat this with another sheet for each layer. You should end up with 3 stacks of folded pastry (6 layers each).
Assembly: Place the first pastry layer on the buttered paper-lined cookie tray. Spread half the pork and nut mixture over the pastry, all the way to the edges and cover with another pastry layer. Repeat. Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into 6-8 rectangles or if you are more traditional, triangles. Pour over leftover butter.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned and flaky. In the meantime, prepare the syrup.
To make mandarin sugar syrup: place water and sugar in a small saucepan. crush mandarin peel into the mix, this helps release the fragrant oils. Cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves then bring to the boil and turn off.
To serve: drizzle hot baklava with the mandarin sugar syrup (sprinkle with candied zest and sea salt flakes) and serve immediately.