Cretan Carnivale Pork Pie With Raisins And Pistachio

This is a sweet-savoury pie comprising raisins, cinnamon, nuts and sweet red wine as well as minced pork and chicken livers (traditionally the pig liver was used). It’s very rich and is usually eaten in Crete at Carnevale, just before Lent when there are parades and dancing in the streets – see how to make pancakes for a bit more about the history of Carnevale. The filo pastry makes the pie look very festive, if you have any over you can scrunch it into handkerchiefs and brush with additional butter to make it look extra flamboyant. We had it for Easter this year and the whole family pronounced it to be excellent.

cretan carnivale pie

The filo provides all the carbohydrates you could possibly want but the pie goes well in the spring with plain sugar snap peas, or, if you are lucky enough to find it in the autumn, golden beetroot (red beetroot, would, I think, be too much of a good thing).

Recipe for Cretan Carnivale Pork Pie

Serves 8


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 225 g/8 oz chicken livers (gristle removed, roughly chopped)
  • 675g/1½ lbs minced pork
  • 240 ml/1 cup marsala or madeira – if you want to be really authentic you could use Mavrodaphne
  • 175g/1 cup raisins
  • 4 tbsp apple chutney
  • 200g/7 oz feta
  • 110g/1 cup roughly chopped pistachios
  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 540g/1lb 4 oz ready-made filo pastry
  • 120g/4 oz …. Or maybe more (allow for most of the brick) … melted butter
  • Indonesian long black pepper
  • Smoked salt – 3 teaspoons
  • 1 tbsp full milk


  1. Heat the oven to 210°C (use the bottom of the top right oven of the Aga).
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the livers for about four minutes.
  3. Add the mince and fry for another four minutes.
  4. Add the marsala, the raisins, the cinnamon and some freshly ground Indonesian long black pepper.
  5. Simmer for another fifteen minutes until the pork is properly cooked through, take off the heat.
  6. Stir in the sugar, salt and pistachios, chutney and feta.
  7. Oil a pie dish.
  8. Line it with one layer of filo pastry, brush with butter, and do the same again with a second layer…. The pastry should slightly overhang the edge of the pie dish.
  9. Add the filling.
  10. Cover with another couple of layers of filo, brushing each with butter, then bring up the overhanging pastry and stick down over the top of the pie with a bit more butter, pinching together with your fingers if necessary.
  11. Brush with the milk.
  12. Bake 25 minutes – if it starts to brown cover with foil. If you need to keep it in for longer you may need to add more madeira, or some red Martini to stop it drying out.

Film and music

Below is a clip from the classic film, Zorba the Greek. The plot is about a Cretan who is sent the trials of Job, only in Zorba’s case God seems to have forgotten about him. Much to the initial irritation of a visiting Englishman Zorba adopts a philosophic, fatalistic view. The scene below begins at the very zenith of his misfortune.

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