This recipe is included in Eat Smart in Portugal, by Ronnie Hess and Joan Peterson.
This recipe is adapted from Jean Anderson’s authoritative cookbook, The Food of Portugal, and is reprinted with permission of the author and her publisher, William Morrow.
Porco à Alentejana
Pork with clams Alentejo-style. Serves 6.
Carne de Porco à Alentejana is one of the most traditional Portuguese dishes found on the menus of Portuguese restaurants throughout the world. The dishes name, “Alentejana” means that the dish comes from the Alentejo region of Portugal.
2½ pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons massa de pimentão*
1 cup dry white wine
2 large bay leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lard (butter or olive oil may be substituted)
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
18 small littleneck clams in the shell, scrubbed
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, (about ¼ teaspoon each)
Rub the pieces of pork well with the massa de pimentão and place in a large, shallow, non-metallic bowl. Add the wine and bay leaves. Cover and marinate for 24 hours, turning the pork occasionally.
Drain the marinated pork, reserving the marinade. Heat the oil (and lard, if using) in a large, heavy kettle over high heat. The fat should almost smoke. Add the pork and brown it in batches, transferring the pieces to a plate or heat-proof bowl. When all the pork has been browned, add onion and garlic to the kettle, lower the heat to medium and stir fry for 3–4 minutes or until the onion is translucent and golden. Turn heat to low, cover, and steam the onion and garlic for 10–20 minutes. Blend in the tomato paste and reserved marinade. Return the pork to the kettle, cover, and barely simmer for 90 minutes, or until the pork is fork-tender. Bring the mixture back to a gentle boil, place the clams on top, cover again, and cook for about 30 minutes, or just until the clams open, spilling their juices.
Season to taste, ladle into large soup plates, and serve with chunks of chewy bread and a crisp green salad.
*Massa de pimentão is a sweet but piquant red-pepper sauce that is often used as a marinade, base, or condiment in Portuguese cooking. It can be store-bought or homemade. The following recipe can be used with this dish. Mash together 1 peeled and crushed clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon paprika, and 1 tablespoon olive oil until the mixture forms a smooth, spreadable paste.