Pork Stew with Cockles and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
- ACTIVE: 1 HR 20 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 3 HR
- SERVINGS: 6
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).
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 pounds 1-inch-thick boneless pork blade chops, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- 1 very large onion, very finely chopped
- 5 large garlic cloves—4 minced, 1 whole
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 3 large bay leaves
- 3 large thyme sprigs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1 1/2 pounds kale, inner ribs and stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
- Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 pounds cockles, rinsed
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.