Following up on the promise I made to post some recipes, here is a dish we had as a pre-Thanksgiving warm-up the day before the main turkey event.
This is inspired by something I ate at a wonderful Portugese restaurant in the Channel Islands, and which I tried to recreate from memory many years later so I won't make any claims of authenticity. Would you believe that I had to wait until we reached Canada to have a proper go at it, because I just could not get hold of clams in Guernsey?
1 medium onion, chopped
Lean pork, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 or 2 tomatoes, chopped
1 or 2 tins of clams, drained
Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
You'll notice the above list is a bit light on quantities, because this is a "seat of the pants" recipe, not something from a book.
Basically, you want enough pork for a meal for however many people you are cooking for, and roughly the same amount of potatoes. Enough clams to make a noticeable contribution without overwhelming the dish. When cooking for two people I use one tin. For a larger quantity I use two.
Cook this dish in a large pan or frying pan with a lid.
Fry the onion gently in some olive oil until it softens and starts to go golden.
Turn the heat to high, add the pork to the pan and fry until it changes colour.
Add the tomatoes. Keep stirring until the tomatoes start to mash down. The pork and tomatoes together should provide enough liquid, but if the mixture looks dry and starts catching on the bottom of the pan then add a splash of water.
Once you have some liquid coating the bottom of the pan, turn the heat down very low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender - at least one hour. If you can leave it going very gently for two hours then do so.
Timing is not too critical for this dish, it is something you can comfortably leave on a low heat for ages, or even prepare ahead of time, turn off the heat, and resume cooking later on.
While the pork is cooking, place the diced potatoes in a pan of salted water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Timing depends on the variety of potato. You want them to have started cooking but still be firm, not about to flake at the edges.
Drain the potatoes, and fry in a mixture of olive oil and butter until crisp and golden. Take off the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, back at the pork...
About half an hour before you are ready to serve, add a generous squirt of tomato ketchup to the pork, enough to thicken the sauce a bit.
Stir in the clams.
Ten minutes before serving, stir in a dash of cream. Bring the heat up to medium and add the cooked potatoes. Mix everything thoroughly and simmer to ensure the potatoes are hot through (depends how long you left them to one side, and this will depend on how good your timing is), then serve.
Delicious with a simple green salad, fresh-baked olive bread...and a nice Chianti