On our trip to Portugal last fall we often saw porco preto on restaurant menus, also known as iberico pork or pata negra. This type of pork is mostly known for the cured iberico ham, but those pigs naturally have more meat to offer. Because of the diet of acorns and genetics the pork has beautiful marbling (similar to Wagyu beef) and flavor. At restaurant Dom Joaquim in the medieval town of Évora we enjoyed stewed iberico pork with mushrooms and chorizo in a ‘pillow’ of puff pastry.
Back home I wanted to make something similar. The Portuguese version included a white sauce, which I left out. The bechamel makes the filling more creamy but also makes this dish (even) more filling. I used iberico pork cheeks, but pork neck or shoulder (Boston butt) would also be fine, and even regular pork or wild boar. Because of the chorizo, subtle differences in the flavor of the meat will be harder to notice.
The meat has to be stewed already before it is wrapped in puff pastry and baked. I used sous vide because it is so easy and will always come out perfect (tender and juicy). I used homemade puff pastry (recipe here), but you can also use store-bought puff pastry. Homemade puff pastry tastes better, but it is a lot of work.
450 grams pork cheeks, shoulder or neck (Boston butt), preferably iberico, but regular pork or wild boar are good substitutes
60 grams Spanish chorizo/Portuguese chouriço, small dice
120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
250 grams (.55 lb) mushrooms, sliced thickly or quartered
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 egg yolk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400 grams homemade puff pastry, or 4 sheets store-bought puff pastry of 20 by 20 centimers (8 inches)
Season the pork with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sear the pork on all sides over high heat in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Take the pork out of the pan after searing, but do not clean the pan.
Allow the pork to cool off, first to room temperature and then, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
Fry the chorizo in the drippings of searing the pork, until it is crispy.
Add the mushrooms.
Sauté the mushrooms until they are cooked.
Deglaze the pan with 120 ml of dry white wine.
Stir over medium-high heat until half of the wine has evaporated, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. Store the pan (or just the contents) in the refrigerator until you are ready to finish the dish the next day.
Vacuum seal the pork as soon as it has cooled.
Cook the pork sous vide for 24 hours at 74C/165F.
After sous vide cooking, pour the liquid from the bag into the pan with the mushrooms and chorizo. Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water until smooth, and add this slurry to the mushrooms.
Bring this to a boil, stirring, and allow to simmer for about a minute, or until the sauce has thickened. Then turn off the heat. (You could add additional cornstarch mixed with water if you think the sauce should be thicker.)
Chop the meat in bite-size pieces. (The meat could also be chopped before cooking sous vide. However, the pieces will stick together.)
Add the meat to the mushrooms and stir to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow this mixture to cool somewhat. (It doesn’t have to be cold, but it shouldn’t be too warm as that would mess with the puff pastry or make the filling too runny.)
In a small bowl, mix a tablespoon of olive oil with an egg yolk.
Preheat the oven to 225C/440F.
For homemade puff pastry: cut off 4 pieces of 100 grams (3.5 oz) each.
Roll each piece out into a square of 20 centimeters (8 inches) on a work surface sprinkled with flour. To roll out into a square, make sure to roll out also in the diagonal.
Instead of rolling out home made puff pastry, you can also cut 4 squares of store-bought puff pastry.
Place a quarter of the filling in the center of each sheet of puff pastry.
Close each parcel by bringing the four corners together and crimping the edges. Brush the top of each parcel with the mixture of egg yolk and olive oil. Place the parcels on a baking sheet lined with oven paper.
Bake the parcels for 15 minutes at 225C/440F (fan forced), or until the puff pastry is golden brown. Serve at once.
This is great with a nice ripe and aged red wine from Alentejo (the warm hinterland of South Portugal). If you decide to make a bechamel version, a full-bodied oak fermented and oak aged white wine would also work.
I like ‘refrigerator cooking’ and I like blogging what I’ve just prepared and eaten. This post hits the spot both ways, as I had some leftover sweet potato, lettuce, cilantro, lime, and jalapeño, and decided to pick up some fish from my fish monger to make these tasty fish cakes. The sweetness of the potato is balanced out by the lime, cilantro, and jalapeño.