You’ve probably come to discover that some of our posts are about healthy options, while others are… less so. This would be one of those less healthy, but so yummy, indulgences–straight from the pages of Nelson’s personal history book.
Yup, this is another recipe from Nelson’s notebook–the book Nelson’s mom hand-wrote for him–filled with recipes of many of the meals that Nelson grew up with and which were connected to the traditions he remembers fondly from his teenage years, living in the Azores.
This is a very popular and traditional dish in various regions of Portugal; more so in the Azores and Madeira islands. This dish is not for the faint of heart and we don’t recommend anyone consumes this on a daily basis. Oh…you’ll want to once you taste this…but you shouldn’t.
As I’ve mentioned before, Nelson spent his teenage years living on the Island of Pico in the Azores. Back then, many people raised a pig or two for personal consumption. Slaughter time was usually around December or January and it was much more than just food prep time. It was typically a large family gathering. The men would “do the deed” (no need for details) first thing in the morning, right after eating dried figs and drinking moonshine… don’t judge, it was cold! Then came the cleaning, prep and cutting of the pig. While this was going on, Nelson’s mom, cousins and friends (normally the women) would prepare large feasts through-out the day (fish, meat, seafood and fresh bread), for the hungry crowd. The division of work might sound sexist, but it’s just the way Nelson always remembered it. I think everyone was just really comfortable with the tradition. I’ve experienced this event myself once and I found it interesting–very much rooted in old traditions, and everyone going about their tasks quite naturally and happily.
Throughout the day and into the evening, there was singing of folk songs, loud card games, kids running around hooking the pig tail onto the belt loop of unsuspecting guests, fisherman stories, and always lots of food and wine being served. Sometimes groups of masqueraded people from the community would visit the homes where this was going on, and join in the fun. Remember, for Nelson, this was the early 80’s; Playstation, xBox, iPads, personal computers and other electronic devices hadn’t arrived yet, so entertainment was a lot more simple than it is today. As I mentioned, I experienced this event in the Azores once myself, and I still remember the details of the day with fondness. It was a lot of fun and truly heart-warming to see how family and friends worked and bonded through the traditions of this event.
From this event came the tradition behind this recipe. These marinated pork cubes were often made the day after the main event or through-out the next few months. Common side dishes were sweet potato, yams, locally made corn bread or flat bread bread and even other cuts of meat like blood sausage.
This may not be a healthy meal, but if you’re okay with the occasional indulgence (like we are), this is an amazing dish and it makes the house smell so good! We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.
- 2½ lbs pork shoulder (pork butt)
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbs red pimento paste (sweet)
- ⅓ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tbs piri pier hot sauce
- 1½ tsp salt
- 2 tbs canola oil (or vegetable oil)
- In a medium bowl, add the garlic, pimento paste, lime juice, white wine, salt and hot sauce.
- Mix the wine mixture well to dissolve the salt.
- Cut the pork into large cubes.
- Place the pork pieces in a large freezer bag (with seal) and pour the garlic and wine mixture over the meat.
- Remove most of the air from the bag and seal.
- With the bag sealed, move the meat and marinade around until all the meat is well coated.
- Place the bag in the fridge overnight.
- Place a large deep frying pan on the stove and heat to medium high.
- Pour the meat and marinade into the hot pan.
- Distribute the meat evenly in the pan.
- The marinade will reach a slow simmer. Let the meat (turn pieces occasionally) cook uncovered until the garlic and wine mixture has reduced substantially. This will take about 30 minutes.
- Once there's only a little bit of marinade at the bottom, add the oil.
- Fry the pieces of meat in the oil and remaining marinade until the edges look seared but not burnt.
- Transfer the pieces of pork to a serving dish.
- Scrape the browned bits of meat and flavoured oil and add over the pork.