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
  • (20)
  • 2 H
  • 4 H
  • Serves 6 to 8
4.9/5 - 20 reviews
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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. So amazing. Combined a few different recipe cooking techniques but used this recipes quantity of materials.

    1. Fantastic, Andrea! We’re delighted you enjoyed it and that you were able to adapt it to make it perfect for you.

  2. This porco Alentejana does need salt. I added at the end. I used chicken breast rather than pork (gasp!) bc that’s what I had, fennel chorizo, pancetta with the onions. It was very tasty!

    1. Lisa, glad you liked the dish. The only thing I can think of is there wasn’t enough seawater trapped in the clam shells. (They may have been purged with fresh water.) I this because this dish is typically salty without adding salt.

  3. I love pork and clams! Tasty, easy and an impressive-looking dish for company! My husband loved it, and I didn’t let my pork marinate more than 4-5 hours because I was in a time crunch. It was still delicious, but I would suggest marinating overnight for fuller flavor as the recipe instructs.

    1. Kristy, that is a massively impressive dish of pork and clams! So glad your husband liked it. And, yes, next time let it marinate overnight. Big difference!

  4. This recipe looks lovely. Is there any reason why I could not make this ahead then reheat and add the clams just before serving? Thank you!

      1. I searched and searched for the “real” way to make these after having them in a Portuguese restaraunt in the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ, and one day happened upon this! What luck! This has become a family favorite and is requested whenever my cousin, a personal chef, visits here at the Jersey Shore. We have a clam shack, yes literally a shack, with fresh-caught clams down the road. Mix the freshest clams you can find with this recipe and you will be in sheer heaven.

        Trust the recipe, because it works like a charm every time. I make it ahead of time, before my guest’s arrival, and it easily reheats. In fact, I like it better as all the flavors continue to develop and get well acquainted and marry with one another. Obrigado!!!

          1. I always use little necks. They work the best. The little necks come right out of the Barnegat Bay. I tried other kinds that don’t seem to work as well. These are the perfect size. Provide the perfect bite. You deserve all the praise, it’s absolutely the best I ever tried. I tried a lot of them. ❤️

      2. Made this dish several times, always excellent. I didn’t have pepper paste, do I used chopped wet pepper. I always use at least 3 cups of wine and add a few bay leaves. I substitute fresh mushrooms for the potatoes sometimes. Kids love it that way.

        All I can say is this is the perfect recipe for pork and clams with or without the clams. Without using clam juice.

  5. David, thanks for all the great Portuguese recipes. My family has enjoyed every recipe I’ve attempted. Could, or even more importantly would you ever consider cooking this in a cataplana?

    1. Jon, you are more than welcome. You could cook this in a sturdy cataplana, but I find cataplanas are better for quick-cook meals such as chouriço and clams.

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