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Pork Stew with Cockles and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
© Quentin Bacon

Pork Stew with Cockles and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR 20 MIN

This combination of briny cockles and smoky pork is traditional in southern Portugal's Alentejo region, though the fresh red chiles in the sauce here add a distinctive twist (for a sweeter variation, use red bell peppers instead).

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  1. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 3 pounds 1-inch-thick boneless pork blade chops, cut into 1-inch cubes
  3. Kosher salt
  4. 1 very large onion, very finely chopped
  5. 5 large garlic cloves—4 minced, 1 whole
  6. 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  7. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  8. 1 1/2 cups water
  9. Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  10. 3 large bay leaves
  11. 3 large thyme sprigs
  12. 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  13. 1 baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  14. 1 1/2 pounds kale, inner ribs and stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  15. Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
  16. Freshly ground pepper
  17. 3 pounds cockles, rinsed
  18. 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  1. In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Working in 3 batches, sear the pork over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 7 minutes per batch; you should not need to add oil between batches. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a platter and season with salt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°. Add half each of the minced onion and garlic to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook over moderately high heat until reduced by a third, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the casserole. Whisk in the tomato paste, then add the water, lemon zest, bay leaves, thyme, paprika and a generous pinch of salt. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the casserole and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Skim the fat from the stew.
  3. Meanwhile, brush the baguette slices with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet; bake until lightly toasted. Rub the toasts with the whole garlic clove while they're still warm.
  4. Add the kale to the stew, a handful at a time; let wilt slightly and add more. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Spicy Red Pepper Sauce; season with pepper. Cover and keep warm over very low heat.
  5. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the remaining minced onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the cockles and the remaining Spicy Red Pepper Sauce, cover and cook until most of the shells have opened, about 4 minutes. Pour the cockles and their juices into the pork stew and gently stir. Cook for 1 minute, or until heated through. Ladle the stew into shallow bowls. Top with the cilantro and serve with the garlic toasts.
Make Ahead
The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat gently before proceeding.

Suggested Pairing

Alentejo is a significant wine region, producing medium-weight, lively, rustic bottlings from the Tempranillo grape, known there as Aragonez. For this spicy stew, a lightly herbal blend pairs well.