Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vinho d'Alhos (Portuguese Wine and Garlic Marinated Pork)

With all the wintry weather for the past two months, unusual for Vancouver -- a "hint" of snow witnessed just this morning! -- we thought it was time for a trip. So, we hitched a ride on FOODalogue's Culinary Tour.

We're going to Portugal!

We're no experts in Portuguese cuisine, but what we know and have tasted of the cuisine is so delicious that we knew we had to explore more of it. (Making peri-peri chicken is always a joy, as is caldo verde.)

We discovered PortugueseCooking.com, a site by Ana Patuleia Ortins, and found recipes for Wine and Garlic Marinated dishes. I consolidated two of those recipes and began making our dish.

To start, the marinade, of course.

In a bowl, I combined white wine, red wine vinegar, some cinnamon, cumin, allspice, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, and red chili flakes. I added the pork butt that I've cut into cubes and let them marinate overnight.

left: pork cubes marinating
right: out of the marinade

The next day, JS removed the pork from the marinade and dried the cubes.

The pork was browned, then the marinade went in. The mixture was brought to a boil, then simmered until the pork was tender.

Easy, eh?

We served it with "jag" (short for "jagacida", a Cape Verdean lima beans and rice dish) and some sautéed kale. The whole thing was brightened with a sprinkling of some hazelnut gremolata that I made for another dish.

My favourite part of the meal was the jagacida, mixed in with the kale. So my comments on that taste would have to wait until then.

To be honest, the pork stew was somewhat "unfamiliar" to me -- or rather, it smelled "unfamiliar." The consensus around our dinner table was that the aroma was almost a tad too overwhelming, too wine-y and too vinegar-y. Or maybe it's something else altogether. Unfortunately, it deterred some members of the family.

When one bites into the pork, though, the flavours of the marinade did not really penetrate through to the meat; they were more muted. The marinade-turned-sauce just provided an acidic counterpoint to the brown porkiness of the meat. The acidic highpoints and the background of smoky savouriness from the spices complemented the creamy, butteriness of the jagacida.

If anything, I would have liked this pork stew more if it was not too wine-y and vinegar-y. And, I can take more garlic. I love the combination of allspice, cinnamon, and cumin and would not be averse to playing with it more.

Not quite the knockout dish I was hoping for, but it did make for a good comforting meal.

[eatingclub] vancouver Portuguese meal
Vinho d'Alhos (Portuguese Wine and Garlic Marinated Pork)
Sautéed Kale
Jag (Jagacida, Cape Verdean Beans and Rice)
Hazelnut Gremolata

Other Portuguese dishes
Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale and Chorizo Soup)

Recipes from PortugueseCooking.com

Vinho d'Alhos
(Wine and Garlic Marinated Pork)
adapted from recipes by Ana Patuleia Ortins (http://www.portuguesecooking.com/)

2 1/2 pounds pork butt, cut into cubes

1/2 cup white wine
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
4 kernels allspice

2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch red chili flakes (to taste)

Combine marinade ingredients together. Add pork. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator, or for 3 to 4 days.

When ready to cook, remove pork from the marinade. Pat dry. Set marinade aside.

Heat a pot and add oil. Brown pork cubes; you may need to work in batches. Once all the pork cubes are browned, place them and the marinade in the pot. Let boil, then turn the heat to low and let simmer until pork is tender, about 1 hour or so.

We're submitting this to The Culinary Tour Around the World, created by our virtual tour guide, Joan of Foodalogue.


  1. This looks wonderful and the ingredients used all sound delicious together!

  2. While I respect js' critique, it looks delicious to me. Looking forward to hearing about the rice and gremolata. Thanks so much for participating in the event -- I hope you'll consider meeting me at another of the destinations.

  3. Hmmm... Too vinegary? Don't we use quite a bit of that in adobo as it is? Heh heh. I would've gladly eaten it up, it looks delicious!

  4. That looks like a nice meal. I like the sound of that hazelnut gremolata.

  5. Marinated, seared then simmered until tender...just the way I like my men opps, I meant meat. HEHEHEHEH

  6. Bummer it didn't come out like you hoped but it sure sounds good to me

  7. May be it needs more salt or stewing time similar to our adobo?:)
    Looks good though.

  8. I can remember something similiar that my grandmother used to make. I like a wine-y and vinegar-y taste to foods, so I think this would be right up my alley!

  9. Looks like we're both hankering for some Portuguese cuisine. Love the deep caramelization, the spices - yum!

  10. Can you ship some of that Jag over to me?

  11. I need to cook more Portuguese foods too! Thanks for the reminder. :-)
    This looks really really tasty. Yum!

  12. Joan Nova:
    We'r starting to do a little research on those countries' recipes. Hopwfully we'll have time to do two or so of them!

    Haha... OK, maybe not too vinegar-y. Maybe I put too much allspice in the marinade. Would have to figure this out.

    Thanks. It really added a nice brightness and some crunch to everything.

    Mochachocolata Rita:
    Haha... Freudian slip?

    Everybody should join in the fun! Next stop is Romania... then Ethiopia!

    February 10, 2009 6:18 PM

    Yeah. Were not giving up on this dish. I think maybe I just need to tinker with the proportion of the spices.

    Yeah, when thinking about it, I don't think it's the wine or vinegar that's the problem! because I do like wine-y and vinegar-y items too!

    Peter M:
    Zen Chef:
    Thanks! It certainly seems an underrated cuisine... at least in Vancouver.

  13. Oh man this is my kind of food. What a fabulous recipe. Not that familiar with Portuguese food except something called "soupish?" that my stepfather's family used to make all the time.

  14. kellypea:
    Oh, I haven't heard of "soupish" at all. Now I'm really curious.

  15. Thank you so much for making this post-- I'm still new to marinating meat, and stumbled across your blog when I was searching for the answer to whether it was okay for pork to change colors after an acidic marinade. Your pictures solved it all for me. Thanks again!

  16. Kim:
    Thanks for visiting. Usually something really acidic will change the color of the meat; not so much for marinades that are mostly spices or oil, though. You'll get the knack for it in no time! =)

  17. My mother used saffron, wine and Vodka in the marinade makes the meat more tender. 3 days in the fridge turning every day. If the saffron is too costly you can add a little tumeric to extend the amount to a little bit more. I have used good expensive Saffron powder. akd I used a coffee grinder to mix the cheapo saffron flowers that you get in celophane in the grocery store really cheap. Its am okay substitution. Anyway mom insists that the recipe requires 3 days of marination. Mother used to do everything the old fashioned way. This and the Portuguses Sausage recipe were awesome. The sausage takes 6 days to make. I thinkl they marinated it long way back when refridgerators werent so common every where, the recipe I have supposedly passed down from Alva Mai's (Sp?) mother.

  18. Our Vinha d'alhos from Madiera and Azores is quite different. My family spices the marinade only with plenty of garlic, dried thyme, and hot pepper flakes with a touch bay leaf and rosemary, (still in a wine and vinegar base). Marinade it for a few days but only use the marinade sparingly when cooking or it can come out too acidy. Throw some fresh portuguese bread on top for the last few minutes of cooking and you'll wonder how something so simple can be so good.

  19. Anon 1:
    Oooh, thanks for the extra info and tips! The old-fashioned way is usually the best. =)

    Anon 2:
    Ah, good tip re using the marinade only sparingly. Maybe that was our error. Thanks for the comment!


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