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Zaytinya’s Greek Grandmother, Aglaia Kremezi

February 2015

Not too many restaurants are lucky enough to have the warm, loving embrace of a grandmother, but luckily for Zaytinya, Greek culinary figure and cookbook author, Algaia Kremezi, has served as a key, influential presence since it opened its doors in 2002. This past January, we welcomed Aglaia for the feast of choirosphagia – an annual celebration that honors the tradition of pig-slaughtering that takes place on the islands of Greece. Here, she explains one of the many dishes that result from this mouth-watering occasion with a recipe for Hirinopita, a traditional pie made of phyllo dough and filling. Click here to watch the video. 

Hirinopita (Pork Pie) with Roasted Squash and Smoked Cheese

Makes 15 individual triangle pies

Olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

About 1 1/2 pounds braised or roasted pork shoulder, finely chopped

1/2 cup paspala (Kea pork confit), or chopped smoked bacon

2 1/2 cups mashed roasted squash

2 1/2 cups fresh sheep’s milk cheese, smoked on the stovetop and drained, OR a combination of 1 1/2 cups smoked mozzarella and 1 cup kefalotyri or pecorino, grated

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 egg, lightly beaten

Home-rolled phyllo pastry or 1 package frozen phyllo, defrosted according to manufacturer’s instructions 

Olive oil or butter to brush or spray the phyllo 


Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and sauté the onion for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until soft. Add the meat and paspala, or bacon and toss for 3 -5 minutes to warm through. Transfer to a large bowl and add the squash, the cheese and the thyme. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients, then add some salt and pepper, taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the egg and stir well to mix. Let cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Cut phyllo stack in half crossways to form 8 1/2 X 10 1/2 inch rectangles. Place a long rectangle of phyllo pastry on the work surface (cover remaining phyllo with a tea towel to prevent drying out). Spray or brush the pastry with olive oil or butter and add one more piece of phyllo on top. Spray or brush again with olive oil or butter. 

About 1 inch from the bottom of each strip, place about  1/4 cup of the cooled filling. Fold one corner of phyllo diagonally across to the opposite edge to form a triangle. Continue to fold the triangle onto itself. Brush with olive oil or butter.

Place the triangles, seam side down, at least 1 inch apart, on the baking sheets.

Bake 20 -30 minutes or until golden brown, swapping the baking sheets halfway through the cooking time.