One of my all-time favorite combinations of pork and shellfish is the Portuguese pairing of pork and clams, which are united in a number of that country’s favorite dishes, including several stews featuring crumbled sausage or marinated pork cubes (e.g., cataplana, stoccafisso, alentejana). This recipe borrows inspiration from those classics, adapting them to my personal affection for roasted pork loin on the bone and cooking the clams in its tangy, slightly spicy sauce.—Tom Valenti and Andrew Friedman
5 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
One 4 1/2-pound bone-in pork loin (about 4 or 5 chops)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into thin slivers, plus 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 1/4 cups bottled clam juice
1 1/2 pounds small clams (about 24 clams), rinsed and scrubbed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1. About 30 minutes before you want to cook, put the tomatoes in a bowl and season them with salt, pepper, and sugar. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, make small 1/2-inch-deep slits all over the pork loin. Slide a garlic sliver into each slit using the edge of the knife. Season the pork all over with salt and pepper.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add the pork and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the pork from the pot and set aside.
4. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pot. Add the onion and halved garlic cloves and cook slowly, stirring often, until caramelized, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil over high heat, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the reserved tomatoes, thyme, marjoram, and crushed red pepper. Stir in the clam juice and cook over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Spread the vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pot and rest the pork loin on top of the vegetables. Transfer it to the oven and roast, basting every 10 to 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the loin reads between 145°F and 150°F (62°C and 65°C), about 45 minutes, for medium; or 160°F (70°C) for more well done. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and set aside.
6. Put the pot over medium heat. Add the clams, cover, and cook until the clams pop open, 5 to 6 minutes.
7. While the clams are cooking, carve the loin into individual chops and arrange decoratively on a platter. When the clams are done, arrange them over and around the chops.
8. To serve, spoon some sauce around the platter and scatter the chopped parsley over the pork and vegetables. Serve family style from the center of the table.
Recipe © 2003 Tom Valenti. Recipe © 2003 Beatriz da Costa. All rights reserved.