So I thought it would be fitting to kick off my blog with one of my most requested recipes. This dish is so amazing! If there is one thing the Portuguese can do, it's to marry land and sea. This dish is from Portugal's Alentejo region. Marinated cubes of pork and clams mingling with fried potato cubes smothered in a rich sauce. I use pork tenderloin, although my mother would use a less expensive cut, and just let it stew away to soften for hours. Mommy ain't got time for that! I do use lard, it just "one
ups" this recipe from good to WOW, trust me. Feel free to substitute your choice of fat for the lard, olive oil would work well or even vegetable oil. I wouldn't suggest butter, as it has a low smoke point. The pork is fried to sear on high first. The pork is best left to marinate for a minimum of three hours to overnight (8 hours).
Please note that this dish requires red pepper paste (massa de pimentão doce)
You can find it at most Portuguese specialty shops or online.
If you can't, you can substitute sweet paprika powder, pimenton dulce (spanish). Sainsbury's has the pimenton dulce powder.
Portuguese Pork and Clams Carne de Porco À Alentejana
Pairs well with any dry white wine,such as Vinho Verde or Chardonnay, pale Beer such as Stella, and even a soft red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Merlot.
Two pork fillets/ tenderloins (approx. 3-400 kg. each) cut into one inch cubes
4 tablespoons red pepper paste (or 3 tablespoons powered sweet paprika, juice of half a lemon)
4 cloves of garlic minced
6 tablespoons lard, or oil of choice from suggestions above
2 medium onions finely chopped
2 cups of dry white wine divided (portuguse vinho verde variety would be perfect)
1kg. of any small clam variety (such as littlenecks) cleaned and rinsed
Small bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves finely chopped
you can substitute parsley if you prefer
2 1/2 pounds of potatoes (good for frying varieties such as Maris Piper, Yukon Gold) reserve in a bowl of cold water until ready to use to prevent them browning. Drain and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel before frying
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
Pepper to taste
1litre oil for deep fat frying potatoes
1/2 cup of water if sauce reduces too much
In a large resealable plastic bag or bowl covered place your pork cubes, red pepper paste, (or substitute as above) salt, garlic, bay leave and mix well. Marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
Remove pork from container and reserve marinade.
Melt lard in large frying pan when melted and hot, add pork and fry until golden,stirring about 5 minutes. Meat won't be cooked through at this point,but will braise with liquid later.
Add onions and let brown along with meat. Pour in remaining white wine, scraping off any brown bits inside of pan (best part). Add reserved marinade from pork. Lower heat to low and cook uncovered 8 minutes.
If you notice sauce is very scarce at this point add a 1/2 cup of water.
Meanwhile get your oil ready to fry the potatoes. If you have a deep fat fryer then fry in small batches following the manufacturer's instructions on temperature setting and quantity basket will hold. If you don't, you can just fill a stockpot big enough to hold the litre of oil and heat until hot. Add potatoes in small batches and fry until golden,no need to double fry, about 10-15 minutes. Drain on paper towels and reserve.
Add the clams to pork in pot, cover tightly and cook over medium to high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until clams open.
Add potatoes to pork and clams and carefully toss to coat potatoes with sauce. Add cilantro and toss again. Discard bay leaves before serving.
Serve with crusty bread, to mop up sauce, and a lettuce onion and tomato salad, light vinaigrette.