A new month means a new date night in idea. This time we are “traveling” to Portugal. Andrew and I have tried to make a flight to Portugal twice and we ended up in Belgium and The Netherlands instead. Not complaining at all, it’s the adventure of stand by travel! We’ll make it to Portugal someday but until then we’ll have to settle for a themed date night.
What to Eat:
A casual dinner of Portuguese style BBQ is perfect for a date night in. Carne Vinha d’Alhos, (pork with wine and garlic) is a traditional Christmas dish from the Portuguese island of Madeira and it is so delicious. There will be plenty of leftovers which is always a bonus in this house! Serve with wine braised potatoes, add a fresh garden salad, cole slaw or some collards and you have the perfect date night meal.
Carne Vinha D'Alhos
- 5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 10 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 cup Madeira
- 1/4 cup minced fresh oregano
- Bulky, kaiser, or another favorite roll
- First you are going to marinate the pork!
- In a large Dutch oven, stir together the pork, wine, vinegar, bay, garlic, dried oregano, pepper flakes, cloves (if using) and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 48 hours. (24 hours is perfect, do this the night before)
- When you are ready to cook the pork, heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Set the pot, uncovered, over medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Re-cover, transfer to the oven and cook until a skewer inserted into the pork meets just a little resistance, about 1½ hours, stirring once about halfway through.
- Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and garlic to the rack, removing and discarding the bay and cloves ; set aside. Tilt the pot to pool the cooking liquid to one side, then use a wide spoon to skim off as much fat as possible; reserve the fat.
- Add the Madeira to the pot, bring to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced to about 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes; set aside. Remove and discard any large bits of fat on the exterior of the pieces of pork.
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved pork fat until barely smoking. Add the pork and cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add the reduced cooking liquid. Return to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the pork is lightly glazed and begins to sizzle, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper, then stir in the fresh oregano. Transfer to a serving dish.
- Toast up your buns and top with meat.
Portuguese Wine-Braised Potatoes
- 2 lbs yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes ( or Piri Piri spice if you have it)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with the garlic, bay, crushed peppers, paprika, ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
- In a large saucepan over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until fully softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the potato mixture, then add the wine and broth.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high, then cover, reduce to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, about 30 minutes.
- Uncover and cook over medium, now stirring more often and adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, until the liquid has thickened and lightly coats the potatoes, about 7 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay and stir in the parsley. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
Fresh seafood is super popular in Portugal. You could also try making this simple and delicious Cod with Potatoes from the blog Food from Portugal. This meal is much lighter and less time consuming than the recipe above, so it’s a great option.
For dessert you could whip up some Queijadas. They are custardy and sweet, try this recipe it’s super easy to make. Or if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious try Bola de Berlim, Portuguese donuts with a custard filling. Custards and egg heavy dishes are very popular in Portugal.
What to Drink:
Wine is always a good idea. A Vinho Verde from Casal Garcia or Porta 6 is a nice refreshing choice. Porta 6 also has a great Red Wine that goes really well with the sandwich above. Port is also very popular in Portugal because well, it’s from there. Try a Port Tonic using white or ruby.
- Fill a rocks glass half full with ice
- Add 1 part port
- Add 2 parts tonic
- Stir well until mixed
- Add a slice of orange or lemon to garnish
What to Listen To:
This Portuguese Chill playlist on Spotify is really good. It’s perfect for the background while you are cooking, eating, and playing a game. You can also search for Fado on Spotify. Fado is a music genre that can be traced to the 1820s in Lisbon it’s thought to have much earlier origins though. This music is often associated with pubs, cafés, and restaurants.
What to Do:
Play some games! Jogo da Laranjinha is the Portuguese name for bocce ball, and it’s especially popular in the Alentejo region. This a great option if it’s nice outside and are up for a little competition. Azul is a board game that is played with colorful tiles and can be found at your local game shop. Players collect sets of similarly colored tiles which they place on their player board. You get points for the rows that you complete, it’s super fun and not as complicated as it sounds.
I hope you have a wonderful date night in. If you have any ideas to add, please share them!
Until next time, Saúde!