26 June 2013

Portuguese Pork with Bell Peppers & Broccoli

As the name of this blog aptly covers, the hubs and I are foodies.  If we're not eating, we're thinking about our next meal.  However, we are also known around town for our moonlighting as wine-o's.  That saying about the way to the heart being through the stomach definitely applies.  With all this food and wine, we're almost super duper classy....almost being the key word.  Sure, we love red wine and yes, the wine store recognizes my number on their caller ID.  But then we take notes on our fancy schmancy wines while playing Wii ping pong.  You see, almost...but not quite.

We have been incredibly lucky here in Ohio to find some truly fantastic wine shops.  These are not the megaplex wine warehouses that offer the courtesy of a drive-thru.  Rather they are the shops that have tasted their entire inventory, carry what they like and have no qualms about tasting a few with you.  Luckily for us, our absolute favorite also has a wine club that doesn't break our budget.  And it is truly tremendous.  Every month the owner picks two truly special and unique wines for his members, then takes the time to write up a fact sheet and and suggested pairing recipe for each.  Food and wine...it's like he's our shopkeeper soulmate.

This fantastic dinner is one of his suggested recipes that my fabulous hubs took dolled up to our liking.  The hubs surprised me one Friday evening with a bouquet of flowers and strict instructions to relax while he made dinner.  Now that's the kind of order I'm ok with taking!  He began this dish in the morning, making the marinade and pounding out the pork cutlets, giving them all day to bask happily together in the refrigerator.  And the flavor that resulted from this marathon marinade session was tremendous.  The pork was incredibly tender and spicy after spending hours in the oil, peppercorns and garlic.  One whiff of the meat sizzling in the hot pan sent me hovering over his shoulder like a pesky wife (oh wait....).

Now to be honest, I am shamefully undereducated when it comes to Portuguese cuisine.  I've eaten it at restaurants and parties many times, but have really never cooked it at home.  Maybe that's why the hubs took this bull by the horns.  It flavor and style is very similar to Mediterranean cuisine with lots of garlic and olive oil, but with an amazing wallop of spicy flavor that can knock your socks off.  After Googling around a bit, I found that their wide use of spice dates back to the Portuguese empire when they began importing items such as black pepper, vanilla, saffron and chili peppers from various colonies.  All the delicious flavors of the Mediterranean with the best spices of the world...no wonder their food is so good.

This dinner was perfect.  The pork was unbelievably flavorful after spending the day soaking up all the garlic and peppercorns and carried the bulk of the flavor.  The hearty broccoli and sweet grilled peppers were the perfect flavor compliments to tone down the pork's pungency and balance the dish.  The hubs served this with crusty bread slices which were amazing when piled high with pork and vegetables, but the dish would also be fantastic over brown rice.  Perfect wine, perfect food, perfect ping pong, perfect night.

Portugese Pork with Bell Peppers & Broccoli (about 3 servings)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs coarse salt
  • 1/2 tbs whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbs + 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed 
  • 1 1/2 red bell peppers (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 small head broccoli (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 c dry white wine (chardonnay is great)
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
Start by making the marinade for the meat.  Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic, salt, peppercorns and one tablespoon of the olive oil together until a smooth paste forms.  If you don't have a mortar and pestle, chop the spices on a cutting board, then crush with a rolling pin before transferring to a small bowl to mix with the oil.  Set aside.

On a cutting board, pound the pork tenderloin with a meat mallet until the pork is about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into pieces about 2-3 inches in size.  Transfer the prepared pork into a Ziplock bag and pour in the garlic marinade.  Seal and shake until the meat is completely coated.  Set the bag in a pie dish (to prevent leaks) and place in the refrigerator.  Marinade for at least 3 hours. 

 Thinly slice the red pepper and cut the broccoli into small floretts.  If you like the broccoli stem, cut off the exterior and slice the stem into strips about the same size as the peppers.  

Place a large skillet or pan over medium high heat.  When hot, add two teaspoons of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the pork and cook about 20-25 seconds on each side, just long enough to brown the meat, before removing to a small plate and setting aside.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the vegetables to the skillet.  Cook until tender-firm, about 3-4 minutes.  Pour the white wine into the skillet and scrape the bottom to remove any drippings.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add back the pork.  Cook together for about 8-10 minutes to let the flavors combine.  

Transfer the cooked pork to a serving plate and squeeze the juice from your lemon half over the dish.  Serve with crusty bread or over brown rice.   


  1. Love the story of this dish and your hubby cooking. Mine use to cook a lot but doesn't have much time now. This is his kind of dish though.

    1. Man = meat dish. I love it when he has the opportunity to cook for me, too...it doesn't happen often with his med student schedule. Hopefully your husband has a chance sometime soon, too!