Last night’s dinner was a traditional dish from Algarve – the southern most Province in Portugal. The name of the dish is misleading- it is called “Carne de Porco ‘a Alentejana” (Pork Alentejo Style)- yet this is not a traditional dish of Alentejo. Why the misleading name? Algarve is mostly a fishing province with a large coastal area. The story goes that the pigs raised in Algarve were fed mostly fish leftovers and thereforre the pork meat had a fishy taste, so they started buying the meat from Alentejo (where the pigs were not fed fish) and the restaurants started labeling this dish “Carne de Porco (alentejano)” to ensure their patrons knew they used pork from pigs from Alentejo, not local pork. The name, with time changed to Carne de Porco ‘a Alentejana and it stuck.
This is a simple dish to cook, but with some preparation required. I like to marinate the cubed pork (I buy the pork loin and cube it myself) for at least 6 hours.
Marinade: dry white wine, bay leaves, crushed cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and Pimento Paste.
The clams should always be bought fresh and they should sit in salted water for at least 2 hours so that they release any sand or sediment.
The potatoes need to be cubed and they should stay in cold water for a while too – it will help remove some of the starch. Pat dry before deep frying. You can fry them and set them aside before cooking the meat.
Melt 1 stick butter and some olive oil; add the pork (without any marinade, but keep the marinade for later) and sautee until it is cooked and let it brown. Once cooked remove the pork and set aside. Add the marinade to the juices in the pan and add the clams until they open (you may add some more white wine if needed and adjust salt and pepper). Discard any clams that do not open. Add the meat and the potatoes. Serve with lemon slices and decorate with some nice black olives. You can always add some fresh cilantro if you wish.