The Mediterranean is one of the most varied regions of the world in its beauty, its people, its countries and its cuisines. It straddles Europe, Africa and a bit of Asia. Centuries of trading and plundering brought foods from all over the globe to this region where, like the peppers and the tomato, they became part of the local cuisine. Portugal on the far west of the Mediterranean region is actually on the Atlantic but it shares this food connection with the rest of the area. Seafood, smoked pork sausages, abundant use of the powdered dried red pepper we call Paprika, chiles, onions, Olive Oil, herbs all factor heavily in Portuguese cuisine. Truth be told I’ve not been there, it’s on my bucket list but thanks to living in the NYC Metropolitan area, there are many Portuguese restaurants one can visit, especially in Newark New Jersey’s Ironbound section. One one of these visits I was introduced to the combination of Clams and Pork. There are a few dishes that use fresh pork, fried in cubes, and sometimes sliced Portuguese sausages like chourico and linguica are used. Combined in a saute’ of the pork, peppers, onions, garlic, herbs, then wine, paprika, tomatoes, the clams are then added last and steam in the mix adding their oceanic brine to the liquid. It’s amazing. Want to try it? Good. Let’s cook.
TIME: about 1 hour SERVES: 6
1 LB. PORTUGUESE CHOURICO OR LINGUICA (DIFFERENCE IS CHOURICO IS HOT, LINGUICA IS MILD), CHOICE UP TO YOU. I LIKE THE EXTRA SPICE KICK FROM THE CHOURICO, SLICED INTO 1/4 INCH RINGS
1 CUP CHICKEN STOCK
1/2 CUP PORTUGUESE WHITE WINE (OR ANY MEDITERRANEAN WHITE)
1/4 CUP SPANISH OLIVE OIL
1 LARGE ONION, THIN SLICED
4 CLOVES OF GARLIC, PEELED AND THICKLY SLICED
1 DRAINED 28 OZ CAN OF SAN MARZANO TOMATOES, COARSE CHOP THE TOMATOES, RESERVE THE JUICE FOR ANOTHER USE
1 JAR ROASTED RED PEPPERS, SLICED
4 DOZEN COCKLES OR SMALL LITTLE NECK CLAMS, SCRUBBED AND CLEAN
2 SPRIGS OF CILANTRO OR PARSLEY
1 TSP. SWEET SPANISH PAPRIKA (HUNGARIAN WORKS TOO)
PINCH OF SEA SALT
In a Dutch oven, add 2 tbs of olive oil and heat. Brown the Chourico on both sides. takes about 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the onions and 1/2 the garlic. Season with salt and the paprika. Be careful not to brown the onion as that will turn them bitter. Keep an eye on it and stir frequently. When they are fairly soft, add the peppers and tomatoes. Saute’ for 5 minutes then add the wine and reserved Chourico, and let this cook for 5 minutes. Add the Cilantro (or parsley) then the rest of the garlic and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil a little more olive oil, and then the clams. With a sturdy spoon make sure the clams are all coated with the liquid. Cover and let this cook for 10 minutes, Uncover and check for the open clams. If all clams aren’t open gently stir the pot and cook until they are all open, another 5 minutes it should take. Let the pot sit hot and covered for 10 minutes. Uncover. Any unopened clams discard. Serve in bowls with crusty bread on the side that you’ve drizzled the remaining olive oil over. Now dip that bread into those bowls, bring a clam up to your mouth and slurp out the juice and the clam then have a slice of chourico as a chaser. LOL. Tastes great right? Enjoy and Happy Cooking!!