Less widely known than its Spanish counterpart, Portuguese cuisine is having a renaissance. When I was in Lisbon a while back, modern chefs were creating lighter variations of traditional dishes, which in the past tended to be be heavy and quite salty but always contained fresh, local ingredients. This hearty, flavourful pork-and-clam recipe is one of the most popular dishes in the country. Warning: Do not salt this dish until the end, because the natural saltiness of the clams and other ingredients may make it unnecessary.
2 lbs (1 kg) littleneck clams
8 oz (250 g) prosciutto (preferably in one piece)
4 oz (125 g) smoked Portuguese chouriço sausage (or Spanish chorizo)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced Spanish onions
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup white wine
28-oz (796 g) can tomatoes, puréed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
Place clams in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Chill until ready.
Trim rind from prosciutto and dice into ½-inch pieces. Cut chorizo into the same-sized pieces.
Heat oil in heavy, high-sided sauté pan or skillet on medium high heat. Add prosciutto and sausage, and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until starting to brown. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Add onions and garlic to skillet. Sauté for 4 minutes or until softened. Stir in green pepper and cook 1 minute longer. Pour in ½ cup wine, tomatoes, bay leaf and paprika. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Return the prosciutto and sausage and simmer uncovered 10 minutes longer. The sauce can be made ahead of time to this point.
Spoon sauce into a cataplana, or sauté pan. Add parsley and coriander and bring to a simmer. Bring remaining white wine to a boil in a large pot. Add clams, cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until clams open. Discard any clams that don’t open. Spoon clams and 1 tbsp cooking liquid into sauce, pushing them down into sauce. Taste sauce, adding more cooking liquid if needed for seasoning or to thin it out slightly. Take pan to table and serve.