Portuguese Pork and Clams ~ Porco Alentejana

This combination of Portuguese pork and clams, also known as porco Alentejana, is a superbly comforting and oh-so-satisfying dish of marinated pork shoulder and briny clams in a white wine and red pepper sauce.

A blue bowl filled with Portuguese pork with clams and fried potato cubes.

This dish is from the Alentejo, Portugal’s vast plains region, but my version bears only a passing resemblance to the original. Portuguese cooks typically fry the marinated cubes of pork loin in lard, making for some tough chewing, even with Portugal’s tender pork. The version I was weaned on was braised, requiring hours of cooking so that the meat would soften and break down. I use pork shoulder (butt), an excellent choice for juicy, tender morsels—with significantly less time on the stove.–David Leite

Portuguese Pork with Clams | Porco Alentejana

  • Quick Glance
  • (13)
  • 2 H
  • 4 H
  • Serves 6 to 8
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Ingredients


Directions

In a medium bowl, toss the pork chunks with the red pepper paste. Add the wine and toss again. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 36 hours.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and crank up the heat to 400°F (200°C).

In a colander set over a large bowl, drain the pork, reserving the marinade. Pat the pork dry with paper towels.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons olive oil. Working in batches, add the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Add more oil in between batches, if needed. Transfer the pieces to a plate using a slotted spoon. If the bottom of the pot develops a dark coating, tip in some water in between batches and scrape it up.

Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Pour in the reserved marinade, return the pork to the pot, and cook, covered, over low heat until the meat is tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If it looks as if the liquid will burble away, spoon in a bit of water.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the potato cubes with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, season lightly with salt and with plenty of pepper, and scatter in one layer on a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet. Roast, flipping them once or twice, until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Discard any clams that feel heavy (which means they’re full of sand), have broken shells, or don’t close when tapped.

Raise the heat under the pork to high, stir in the clams, cover, and cook until they open, 7 to 10 minutes. Toss out any that refuse to pop open. Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper if needed.

To serve, remove half the clams from their shells, and return them to the pot. Toss out the shells. Line the bottom of the serving bowls with the potato cubes, top with the pork and clams and broth, and sprinkle with the cilantro. Have a large bowl at the ready for the shells.

Print RecipeBuy the The New Portuguese Table cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This hearty meal of Portuguese pork and clams was so satisfying and comforting and our whole family loved it. The pork was meltingly tender and the clams gave a pleasant brininess to the spicy broth. Even my kids were fighting over the last clam in the pot. It was an enjoyable weekend project and well worth the effort.

I used an inexpensive Pinot Grigio and Manila clams. I didn't need to add any additional oil between batches of meat nor any water while searing or while braising the meat.

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Comments

  1. Great recipe! Can easily be eaten as a stew or as a soup. Having visited Portugal a few times, I’ve always been a big fan of Portugese home cooking. So being able to make this and have it with dinner with a nice red blend wine from Portugal brings back a lot of memories. The photo is the final product.

  2. I love your recipes. I made the Porco Alantenjana. I used to work at a Portuguese Restaurant. I think Ferna would be proud of me. She used to make this for her and I after the customers would leave. Your recipe is just as good if not better and my husband was in love. Donna

    1. Donna, you did a fantastic job. That image is stunning and we couldn’t be more pleased with how well this turned out for you. Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know.

  3. I grew up eating this dish at Tony da Caneca in the Ironbound section of Newark, and it was the last homecooked meal I got to make for my folks. This recipe is spot-on, and I’ll be serving it to someone special soon. Thanks, David!

    1. Keith, I grew up in Elizabeth, NJ and Tony DaCaneca was the first Portuguese restaurant I had EVER gone to. Where was this food all my life? There were no Portuguese restaurants in Elizabeth at the time. Down Neck was where it was happening. Now I still eat it but I cook it too. I came on her a few days ago looking for a good Pork & Clams Alentejana recipe and found it. The pork shoulder is marinating as we speak. Can’t wait to put it together for Sunday dinner. As a side note, I live in SoFL now and the only Portuguese restaurant we have is in Coral Gables (Miami) which is a almost an hour from where we live.So when I want good food, I have to make it:)

  4. I wanted to cook something special for my husband for Father’s Day. We typically go to a restaurant to celebrate special occasions, but the current state of the pandemic kept us at home. He’d grown up in Western, MA, where he enjoyed attending Portuguese festivals with his family and friends, and later when he moved closer to Fall River, MA, would frequent restaurants with this cuisine. Once I found a couple of recipes for pork and clams, one of his favorite dishes, I showed him both; he said that Leite’s Culinaria’s recipe looked more authentic.

    This recipe is straightforward. In the past, I would have considered the dish too time-consuming to make but again, in these days of staying at home, what else do I have to do? What I learned from making this recipe is how much time improves the flavors of a dish. I marinated the pork for 36 hours before braising it for an hour and a half, which made it so, so tender and delicious. It wasn’t fall-apart-tender but juicy and meaty. The potato preparation was simple; each nugget of Yukon had a salty savoriness, I couldn’t resist. The potatoes served as the bed for the pork and clams but which certainly didn’t put them to sleep!

    (Note: I used the site’s recipe for Red Pepper Paste which produced more than was needed. Later in the week, I marinated chicken breasts with the leftover paste combined with white wine and grilled them, which resulted in a meal full of flavor and a mouthful of joy.)

    As a New Englander, my husband’s favorite “special” dish has always been steamed lobster. He’s never happier than when he has a 2-pound lobster sitting on a dinner plate in front of him. On this Father’s Day, he stopped mid-bite, and said, “You know, this dish is a very close second to lobster.”

    I nearly dropped my fork.

    I signed up as a tester for this site the day after making the dish. I decided I wanted to be part of Leite’s Culinaria and their mouth-watering dishes.

    1. Anne, I couldn’t agree with you more. I appreciate this site so much. I was introduced to Portuguese cuisine through my then-boyfriend, now husband of 49 years. I have become a decent cook thanks to my Portuguese MIL. She really knew how to cook all the traditional dishes to perfection. Pork & Clams Alentejana is one of my faves and I’m going to tackle it this weekend. I am also going to marinate for 36 hours for the maximum flavor.

      Note to David: Thanks so much for this wonderful site…Idk what I would do without it!

  5. I found this recipe to be the best. I always use a large pork butt, The only problem is it’s never enough meat. My family loves it so much I have to hide some so I can eat too, LOL!

    I am looking for the best goat dinner recipe. I absolutely love the dinner at our local Portuguese restaurant. It’s a stew type similar to this Pork recipe I think.

    Joe

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