Or, Pork and Clams: Portuguese Style!
By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer
I have this thing about fresh seafood. It must be the very freshest for me, as I demand only the very best that money can buy. Whenever I think about fish, it isn’t the kind that has rested in a freezer case- packaged in colorfully printed shrink wrapped-cryovac portions- sometimes for years before serving. Nor is it prepared in a boil in bag directly from the microwave like many chain-type restaurants serve, calling this fresh fish. They certainly have audacity for even calling this product; fish.
Whenever I travel to places that are famous for their seafood, I get hungry and thirsty! Usually at the same time. I’ve been doing a lot of book and cocktail events up in New England, so my sense of urgency only gets more profound as the weather (and the water) gets colder. Oysters and clams just taste more vibrant with ample salinity come the colder weather.
One of the places that I like to go to for the very best quality seafood that is somewhat close by if you live in the northern NJ or NYC/BK area, is named Seabra’s Marisqueira.
I’m a huge fan of this restaurant- with free parking available both next door and across the street. (Hint: bring five bucks with you to tip the attendant)
This attractive restaurant, looking more like the authentic seafood restaurant located in Portugal, was established in the late 1980’s. It is family owned and operated. They have been serving brimming plates of absolutely the very best fresh seafood available to the market every day since then.
They travel to the fresh seafood market in Hunt’s Point daily to ensure that the quality of their offerings say that this fish has never, ever been frozen. You really can taste the difference in quality and texture. I recommend this place very highly and gave them three stars when I wrote restaurant reviews for NJ Monthly Magazine.
Wine also tastes better with seafood that screams of the cold and unforgiving ocean. One wine in particular from the island of Australia, the Yalumba “The Y Series” Unwooded Chardonnay is perfectly geared to this kind of food. Flavors that speak clearly of the frigid depths of the sea. This wine is not a ‘butter-bomb’, nor is it all fruit-forward that most of all that you taste is cloying gobs of sweet glycerin and stewed fruits… It speaks a language of citrus zest rubbed on sea-salt slicked slabs of wet slate. It’s a most profoundly delicious wine at a very reasonable price.
At DrinkupNY a wine for under fifteen bucks is a very good deal indeed. And you can rest assured that the Yalumba drinks like more rarified wines, some costing three times as much.
It does not have a lick of oak! Stainless steel all the way! Screams for seafood. What else do you need to know except open your checkbook and buy a case! And because it is un-wooded, this wine will be as delicious today as it is a year from today. The Yalumba is both fresh and refreshing because it is not tainted by the curse that seems to plague many Australian wines, some costing much, much more. And that is the curse of over oaking wines.
Fresh Seafood for this wine should include a dish made famous at Seabra’s named Pork and Clams.
What they do is impossibly simple, yet brilliant with wines that speak a certain crispness across the palate.
I’m pretty sure that you’re not going to find Australian wines at a Portuguese restaurant, so put yourself into the very capable hands in this restaurant. And if you are preparing this dish at home, by all means chill down a bottle of the Yalumba Y Series wine and relax yourself for a while. Cheers!
Pork and Clams- Portuguese Style…
First you must marinade the pork butt for at least overnight…this is my marinade which I deciphered from eating at Seabra’s so many times.
2 pounds’ Berkshire (richer flavored) pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 bulbs garlic, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup Yalumba Y-Series Chardonnay– go ahead, have a glass or two while you prepare this dish!
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, unstrained
1 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil (essential)
1 tablespoon Hot Spanish Paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 bay leaf
To Sautee the pork…
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons bacon fat or duck fat
2 cups chopped Spanish onions
4 tablespoon freshly minced garlic (NEVER used pre-peeled garlic cloves, it’s obscene and just lazy to use that awful stuff)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock (roast bones, add water, boil with aromatics and simmer)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup tomato concasse’ boiled, peeled and de-seeded
5 pounds clams, in the shell, well purged and scrubbed (chill in the fridge overnight with cornmeal just covered with salted water, they’ll purge all the sand very nicely, leaving a non-gritty clam for your tasty cooking!)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Place the pork butt cubes into a large non-reactive container with a lid. In a food processor, combine the all the marinade ingredients except for the Bay leaf. Blend until smooth and pour over the pork. Close the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Add the Bay Leaf separately to the marinade container and remove before cooking.
Place a large Le Creuset type Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and bacon or duck fat to the pan. Drain the pork from the marinade and set aside the marinade. Sear the pork pieces in the hot fat in batches, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and do the same again so all sides are nice and crusty. Keep warm in a 200-degree oven while you finish all the pieces.
Add the onions to the hot fat in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 4-8 minutes. Add the crushed garlic to the pan and cook for 50 seconds. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Do not let the flour burn!
Add the chicken stock and the tomato paste- with the salt and reserved marinade to the pan and stir to combine. Stir constantly until simmering uniformly. Return the pork to the pan, simmer and then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to quite low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender. I cook mine at least 2 hours if not more. Add the tomato concasse’ and clams in their (well-scrubbed) shells to the pan, stir to combine and cover. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the clams open, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the temperature to low, and sprinkle with the Italian parsley and serve with your Yalumba Y-Series Chardonnay in chilled glasses.
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!