Saturday 7 March 2009

Portugese Pork Belly with Clams (Porco a Alentejana)

Yes, that's right; more pork belly. You could accuse me of being stuck in a rut, as this is the 4th pork belly recipe to be posted on here, but it's just so versatile. Braised, steamed, roasted - it all works perfectly.

My parents were coming to visit and have a look round the new flat. As they always go all out when cooking for me, I figured it was all I could do to do the same, especially as they gave up their Saturday morning to ferry me back from Ikea. Pork belly always gets rave reviews from my housemate, so my meal was going to be based around this.

Having googled around, I came across this recipe. I haven't cooked any Portugese food before, which is partly why I went for it, although with a few tweaks. As strange as it may seem, shellfish and pork are a great match and this worked very well indeed. Off I went down to Selfridges Food Hall, armed with a gift card from my old colleagues. They were the only place I could think of that would have Palourde clams for me to buy on a Friday night, and they didn't disappoint. At around £8 for half a kilo, they're not cheap but I imagine mussels would work just as well.

The pork belly came from the meat counter, Jack O'Shea. It was very tasty, but I still haven't come across any better than GG Sparks' pork. Anyway, my parents enjoyed the dish immensely (judging but the silence that ensued while we gobbled it up) and I was really pleased with the way it turned out.

Portugese Pork Belly with Clams

Serves 3 hungry people

1 kilo pork belly, skin scored

500gr Palourde clams, or mussels

300mls dry white wine

1 heaped tsp hot smoked paprika

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 yellow pepper, chopped roughly

1 tin of cherry tomatoes, drained and tin juices reserved

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

1 stick of celery

1 handful of coriander

1 handful of parsley

1/2 a lemon

The night before, add the wine to a large bowl with the paprika and the garlic. Score the flesh side of the pork, and add the pork to the bowl, taking care so that the liquid doesn't touch the skin. Marinade for at least 5 hours (I left it overnight). To cook, preheat your oven to the highest temperature. Remove the pork from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and pat dry. Dry the skin thoroughly, rub with a little oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in a roasting tin on high for 30 mins, then turn down to 130 degrees and roast further for 3 hours. Remove and rest for at least 30 mins. I find the skin usually needs to be stuck under the grill to puff up properly, but do keep an eye on it as it burns easily.

While the pork is resting, fry the onion and chilli in a little oil. Strain the marinade and add the garlic from the marinade to the pan. Fry slowly until fragrant. Then add the yellow pepper and the reserved marinade and simmer for 5 or so minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes with half the juice (use the other half of the juice for a pasta sauce or something) and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Making sure the liquid is simmering, add the clams and immediately whack a lid on and cook until the clams have just opened, roughly 5 minutes. I kept peeking as I think there's nothing worse than over-cooked clams. Remove from the heat, garnish with the parsley and coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.

To serve, slice the pork belly into portions, add a ladleful of clams and the sauce, and serve with potato mashed with kale (although I think roasted potatoes or rice would also work well).


Food.By Mark. said...

Drool. More pork belly!

Anonymous said...

That looks so attractive, I would like to give a try it. Pork and Clams sounds like an interesting combo!

Anonymous said...

That sounds and looks amazing .

Anonymous said...

This also looks great! Shame about the Jack O'Sheas. I really must check out GG Sparks.


Sophie said...

What a dish, so hearty. I bet your parents loved it!

Anonymous said...

This bears no resemblance whatsoever to Porco a Alentejana.
You need pickled vegetables and fried cubes of potato through it. O cantino Portugal on Stockwell road serves a fantastic example if you want to try it!


Ben the Chef

Hollow Legs said...

Ben the Chef - It has pork, it has clams, it has potatoes! That's resemblance, no? I didn't know about the pickled veg though, I'll check it out. Thanks for the rec.

Anonymous said...

Loved the flavours sooo much, making it again. I also add beans.......thank you for the recipe, it's a keeper.