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Praski's Pork Alentejana
Author Name: Praskipark
Date: 24/06/13, updated on 24/06/13 (93 review reads)
Advantages: Tender pork, perfectly balanced sauce, crispy potatoes and delicious clams
Disadvantages: Some folks may not like to wait for clams to open or to prepare a marinade
A lot of you probably don't know this but for a short while when I lived in Portugal I worked as a chef in a busy restaurant in Praia da Luz. I haven't been trained as a chef but always loved food and anything to do with cooking. I started off as the dishwasher, then was promoted to Commis Chef and then one day the chef collapsed when the restaurant was packed. I had to stand in and take over. It wa scary but I had been observing the chef with an eagle eye and picked up lots of tips. After a few nightmare episodes where I nearly set the kitchen on fire, earned the name 'fire starter' and gave every child beans with their meal, I soon got the hang of it and went on to work as the head chef for 18 months. It is all true and the story has been written in one of my ebooks.
Pork Alentejano is one of my favourite Portuguese recipes and one that my family love. It's an earthy dish and should be served rough and ready, mopped up with bread or rice. Originally, from the Alentejo you can usually find it on most menus in the Algarve. Here is my version:
1 kilo pork fillet (always choose good quality pork)
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp tomato puree
salt & pepper
3 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped with skin on)
4 tbsp olive oil or lard
1 kilo of clams
5 potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
tbsp fresh coriander
10 -12 black or green pitted olives (optional)
Deep oval dish, either glass or earthenware
Large glass bowl
2 large frying pans preferably non-stick and with lids
Sharp meat kniife
Chip pan or electric fat fryer
1. Take a deep oval dish, glass or earthenware, make up a marinade of garlic, paprika, salt, pepper and wine. Place the meat in the marinade and leave for up to five hours.
2. Wash the clams under the tap, place in a large glass bowl. Cover with water and salt, (about 2tbsp), stir until the salt is distributed with the water. Leave to stand in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours until the clams have opened. Drain away the salty water, rinse thoroughly under the tap and put back into the refrigerator.
3. Drain the meat and then fry in melted lard or olive oil on a medium heat until the meat is golden brown on both sides.
4. Add the marinade to the pan, cover and simmer until the meat is soft and tender and the liquid reduced by half.
5. In another pan add tomato puree, olive oil, onion, fresh coriander, salt and pepper; simmer gently for 6-8 minutes, until a sauce is formed. Add the clams.
6. Deep fry the potatoes until a crispy, golden colour and then ad to the pan with the meat in
7. Give the pan a good shake so the meat and potatoes are equally distributed, then add the clams and sauce to the pan so they sit on top of the pork. Black and green olives can be added at this stage. Gently shake the pan again. Cover and simmer for 3- 4 minutes.
8. Serve on to a brightly coloured dish, add sprigs of coriander for decoration and garnish if you wish.
You will have noticed I have mentioned about using lard. In a lot of traditional Portuguese dishes lard is used, the old Portuguese swear by it as my Granny always did and her meat dishes were delicious.
I always serve this dish with a bowl of plain white rice but it is also tasty with slices of warm, crusty bread.
Recipe serves 6
The beauty of the dish is the golden potatoes mixed with the rich sauce. The white wine from the marinade gives the dish an extra lift and I always added black or green pitted olives to give the meal extra colour and flavour.
Summary: My perfected pork alentejana recipe